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ON THE 



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MIKE QU n> 



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University of Florida 







Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://archive.org/details/ondrumheadselecOOquin 



ON THE DRUMHEAD 



A Selection From the Writing 

of 
Mike Quin 



ON 
THE DRUMHEAD 




A Selection from the Writing 



of . c £ 
MIKE QUIN 



^4 Memorial 
Volume 



Edited, with a Biographical Sketch 
By Harry Carlisle 



PUBLISHED BY 

THE PACIFIC PUBLISHING FOUNDATION, INC. 

PUBLISHERS OF THE DAILY PEOPLE^ WORLD 

590 FOLSOM STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 



£msmr 

COPYRIGHT, 1948 

BY 

THE PACIFIC PUBLISHING FOUNDATION, INC. 



PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. 



To his Qaughtt* 

COLIN AUCHAELA 

and to his wife 

MARY 

whose assistance made 
this volume possible 

and to all 

who are 

"pointed in his chosen direction 

and fighting like hell to get there 9 ' 



Illustrated 

by 

BITS HAYDEN 



Contents 

Preface, by Mike Quin XVII 

Mike Quin (1906-1947) : A Biographical Sketch XIX 
"To My Union Brothers," by Mike Quin XXXIX 

Book One 

THE GREAT DEPRESSION 

Discoveries 

And We Are Millions 3 

Little Boy Blue 10 

The Sacred Thing 11 

Graduation Greetings 13 

Mexican Hands 14 

Investigation 18 

Three Per Cent Own All the Wealth 19 

Struggle 

The San Francisco General Strike, 1934 20 

These Are the Class War Dead 25 

They Shall Not Die 28 

Farewell to Mother Mooney 30 

The Awakening of Barnacle Bill 33 

Journalism 

Lincoln Steffens: In Memoriam 37 

The King of Beasts Is a Louse 38 

The Writer's Task 40 

Grandfather Gets the News 41 

Philosophy 

To the Liberals 43 

Fitting In: The Two Philosophers 44 

The Man in the Rain 46 

Millions of Rip Van Winkles 49 

Christopher Columbus 51 

Bongo and Wowsy 33 

The Flood 55 

Enlightened Age 56 



Book Two 
FASCISM AND WAR 
Spain: Herald of World War 

Not Valid for Travel in Spain 61 

So-Long to a Good Guy 62 

How Much for Spain? 64 

Doc Adams' Nose 67 

Requiescat 70 

Bitter Harvest 71 

The Virus Works at Home 

Shirts of a Single Color 72 

The March of Science 75 

Murphy and O'Brien: On Aliens 76 

The Mugity Wumpus 78 

Thunder Over Europe 

Ironic Request 81 

Why Don't You Laugh? 83 

Umbrella Man's Consternation 85 

War, the Blazing Insanity 87 

Afterthoughts of the War x 88 

O'Brien's Confusion 90 

David's Slingshot . 92 

We Know Enough 94 

The Locomotive of History 

Historical Speed 96 

Murphy Is Sceptical 97 

Willy and the Bombs 99 

The Locomotive 102 

Warriors 104 

Hitler Heads for Moscow 

A Serious Question 106 

Murphy: On Totalitarianism 108 

The Subversive Element 109 

Democracy: An Old Salt Yarn 112 



Some Thoughts on Violence 114 

J. B. McNamara: In Memoriam 115 

A Pansy Parachuter 118 

The War Has Changed, Says Murphy 120 

A Mighty Wall of Muscle and Steel 122 

War Circles the Globe 

The Reception Committee 124 

The Die Is Cast 126 

O'Brien Checks His Hearst Clippings 128 

Hearst on Japan: A Reminder 130 

The Challenge of Pearl Harbor 132 

Book Three 
ALL OUT FOR VICTORY 

Wartime Tribute to the Maritime Men 

You Do Not Sink, But Kill a Ship 137 

Mickey, the Belfast Terror 140 

Louie Gets Off 142 

Why, He's a Negro! Says O'Brien 145 

Some Other Ship 147 

Pistachio, for the Love of Mike 149 

Goddam Them All 152 

The Workers and the War Effort 

Murphy on Shipyard Snoopers 156 

O'Brien Practices Ju-Jitsu 158 

Wartime Married Life 159 

At Jast! Jobs For All 162 

Lest We Forget 

Tom Mooney 164 

A Date to Remember: Madrid, July 18, 1936 167 

A Question of Morale 

He Said Fight 

Reverie at Midnight 

The Bothersome Sex and O'Brien 

Morale 



Crimean Epic 

The Return to Sevastopol 178 

On To Berlin! 

The Second Front Is Opened 184 

Oscar Wants to Know 186 

War Is Back Where It Began 188 

Der Pfutz 189 

Cartel Buggy Ride 191 

Free Private Cocoanuts 192 

Roosevelt Leaves a Heritage 195 

Mr. Griggs and the People 197 

Blood, Sweat and Champagne 200 

Book Four 

AFTER THE VICTORY 

The Uneasy Peace 

Eyes in the Sky 205 

Selfish Guy > - ■ 207 

A Lesson for the 111 Clothed 208 

"Surround the USSR!" They Cry Once More 210 

Thoughts on a Lamb Chop 213 

Behind the Curtain of Cheese 214 

Newsie 216 

One Kind of Faith 217 

The Rage of the Common Man 219 

"That Men May Walk and Laugh in the Sun 

The Diaper Brigade 221 

Did You Ever See a Dream Fighting? 222 

Murphy and O'Brien: On Private Property 225 

What's a Sparrow? 227 

Lenin Was a Nice Guy 230 

What Is a Communist? 232 

The Rubaiyat of Future Struggle 234 

The Genie of Doozenpfeff er 241 



Illustrations 

And We are Millions 5 

The Man in the Rain- 47 

the Mugity Wumpus 79 

Willy and the Bombs 101 

You 0o Mot Sink, But Kill a Ship 139 

The Return to Sevastopol 179 

Blood, Sweat and Champagne 201 

The Genie of Doozenpfeffer 242 




Mike Quin with his wife, Mary, and daughter, Colin, in one of the last pictures 
taken of Mike, shortly before his death, in front of their house in Olema, Calif* 



Preface 



My physicians and surgeons — all being very expert in their field as well as 
being good guys — advise me that I have only about two months more to live. 
Although I am not of a nature that surrenders at all to anything, the reasons 
they give are very convincing. And so is the cane I am holding in my right 
hand, which seems to become more and more necessary each day in spite of the 
fact that I am but forty years old, and — I almost said — in the best of health. 
What I mean, I guess, is that I am in the best possible frame of mind ; and so 
preoccupied with my interests and values in life that it is very seldom I find a 
moment in which to be properly grave about my impending removal* from all 
this. 

I have often said that were I condemned to execution, no one would be able 
to get a picture of me walking in proud and courageous dignity to the gallows, 
electric chair, gas chamber or firing squad that was assigned to dispatch me. I 
would fight every inch of the way, and a number of strong men would have to 
carry me, kicking and biting, to their lethal machine. And when they got me 
there, they would have a hell of a time strapping me into it. This would not be 
from fear of death at all, but merely in unwillingness to surrender even a hope- 
less position or to cooperate with my enemies. 

Of course, in this situation, there is no one to curse and no one to kick. 
There is merely a thing called cancer. Nevertheless, I shall resist to the utmost 
of my ability in accordance with my belief that a man should die pointed in his 
chosen direction and fighting like hell to get there. And if it happens that my 
good friends, the doctors, are right — which seems entirely likely — then death 
shall interrupt me in the midst of enthusiastic endeavor; for I intend to live as 
fully as possible to the last sweet momentl Then, as a lover of life, I hope to. 
submit to its inscrutable chemistry with neither fear nor bitterness, and only one 
regret; to be parted from my wife, Mary, my little daughter, Colin Michaela, 
and from so many beautiful and courageous friends. 

But lest you fear that this is a sad or solemn book and be impelled to put 
it aside, let me assure you that it is not my last wail but my final rich enjoy- 
ment. It is a book that I always intended to write some day — not just the story 
of my life but somewhat the story of all our lives, with the humor, madness, 
conceit and striving; the weakness and strength, the failings and achievements 
that we have all shared in some part. I hope also that it will not be lacking in 
humility. 

I always suspected the unchronicled years in the life of Christ. He placed 
such great importance on humility; whereas all practical philosophers know 
that true humility can be attained only by one who, on occasion, falls prey to 

XVII 



his own weaknesses. Personally, I have always avoided self-righteous men and 
have never fully trusted either the friendship or humanity of anyone who did 
not make a damn fool of himself on occasion. For without this requisite there 
can be no humility, no sense of humor, and no true brotherly understanding. 

My qualifications for publishing an autobiography in the sense of notoriety 
or fame are moderate indeed. It is true that I have attained a small measure of 
notice in literary and journalistic fields under three different names, and on the 
radio in an anonymous role; but not in a spectacular enough way to secure 
fame. It is my belief, however, that an accurate picture of the life and struggles 
of an ordinary man will contribute more toward the understanding needed in 
the world today than a pompous success story. 

May, 1947 Mike Quin 



XVIII 



MIKEQUIN 

(1906-1947) 
A Biographical Sketch by Harry Carlisle 

The autobiography of which Mike Quin wrote in the foregoing preface was 
not completed, because painful physical incapacity overtook him towards the 
end, making his every movement sheer agony. The preface, written in the face 
of impending death, shows how the spirit of struggle against the injustices of 
the capitalist system burned in his slight frame to the very end. It is the best 
possible introduction to this volume of his work. 

On The Drumhead is not designed as a collection of "the best" of his 
writings, rather as a representative selection both as to time and style and range; 
and it is intended to show the relationship of his pungent and witty commen- 
tary to the main issues which faced the working class movement from the depth 
of the depression in 1933, when he entered the movement, to the uneasy peace 
in 1947, when he died. 

There can be no more eloquent spokesman for the man, his principles, his 
courage and his talent, than his own work. The following sketch is therefore 
humbly offered to acquaint the reader with some of the facts and facets of his 
life, for lack of his autobiography, which would have been an outstanding 
contribution to the literature of the people, had he lived to complete it. 

Mike Quin, like that "ordinary guy" of American Revolutionary days, Tom 
Paine, wrote "on the drumhead" in the war to achieve the full dignity of man. 
During the fourteen years of his career as labor journalist, editor, columnist, 
magazine writer, novelist, radio commentator, and pamphleteer, he wrote on 
the average of a million words a year. This, even for the most prolific of writ- 
ing men, journalists, is phenomenal. Hardly a day passed but he fingered the 
keys of his typewriter — or, towards the last, dictated over a machine — in pursuit 
of the wit, scorn, wisdom and affection with which he fought the chaos of 
capitalist life. 

He worked within the means available to the labor movement for the 
expression of its ideas, but always sought to extend them. Although the vast 
bulk of his writing was produced under the space limitations and time pressure 
of daily columns and radio programs, which denies the leisure for the sort of 
writing he wished ultimately to produce, he prided himself that he never 
missed a deadline. Yet, his talent was such that he rendered his materials into 
simple language alive with his own warm and courageous spirit and his acute 
intellectual penetration, expressing his convictions in such a rich variety of 
form and with such imaginative quality that an astonishing amount of his 
writing has permanent literary value. 

XIX 



Everyone who has worked with him will remember the preciseness with 
which he recorded facts, and the color and meaning of conversation; the zest 
in living that took him to out-of-the-way places to learn at first hand what 
people were thinking and doing; the patience with which he sought to project 
his writing and his speech to "the man who had wandered in out of curiosity 
and stood shyly at the back of the hall, listening." They will remember, too, 
his warm love of people. 

He tested his thinking with experience drawn from life, and the essence 
of reality shines in his work no matter how fancifully and imaginatively he 
wrote. His own life history was a rich tapestry of experience, emotion, thought, 
action; he knew the life of the exploited masses at first hand from the begin- 
ning, and he drew from past and present to point the way to the future — that 
Socialist future when "all men will walk and laugh in the sun," free, proud 
masters of their collective destiny. 

"Mike Quin," christened Paul William Ryan, was born in the Irish working 
class district "south of the slot" in San Francisco, shortly after the earthquake 
and fire in 1906. His Irish father was a travelling salesman, who drifted out of 
the family orbit when Paul, his brother Ralph, and his sister Alice were children 
and was seen by them only at rare intervals throughout the years. His mother, 
a dressmaker, came from a pioneer Wisconsin family of Irish, Jewish and 
French extraction. Remote in the family genealogy was a full-blood Chippewa 
Indian; and Paul's grandmother, a whimsical and wise woman who had been a 
Knights of Labor organizer as a young girl, used to refer to her grandson Paul, 
who had fighting and wandering propensities, as "Chief Marchaway-We- 
Bum." 

Family legend has it that Paul's birth, following the earthquake disaster, 
caused the ringing of neighborhood church bells and the drinking of many 
toasts to the continuity of life in the saloon beneath the flat in which he was 
born. 

The earthquake, this "act of God" expressed in the ravages of untamed 
nature, challenged his thinking during formative years and caused him to 
speculate about the nature of such a God. Was he genial?- — savage? — kind?- — 
cruel? When he was fifteen he described God, in verse, as standing — 
"With his legs both astride and a smile on his \ace 
And eyes that were merry with insolent grace . . . " 

This personification of the figure of God in man's imagination is as old as 
folk literature. There are many images of giants, ogres, imps, genii, expressing 
the good, the beautiful, the valiant, the strong, the terrifying; figures like 
Prometheus, Petrushka, and Paul Bunyan, which grew out of the needs and 
humors, fears and fancies of the people. 

Mike Quin wrote much in this vein, creating his own images and symbols 

XX 



out of emotional experience and adapting them to his social philosophy. A year 
before he died he strove to portray the essence of the dilemma inherent in the 
atomic age. It appeared to him as the climax of an epoch, signifying that man, 
mastering nature, must extend this mastery to his social organization unless 
the "gift of genie" was to bring destruction to humanity through atomic war- 
fare. Thus he invoked a monster of terrifying power out of the infinitesmal 
splitting of "the rock," a giant towering over humanity and roaring: "Work or 
Kill! Make up your minds. Work or Kill!" 

Many of the god-like creatures and the broad caricatures of social types 
with which he peopled his verse, fables, and satiric tales had their origin in 
acute personal experience and tortured thinking during boyhood and youth. 
No doubt his imagination was stimulated by the wit and fancy current in his 
own neighboring families. 

An intimate glimpse of his childhood is contained in a letter from a friend, 
who wrote, after hearing of Mike Quins death: 

"I thought of what a little Irish mob we were out there in the Mission, you, 
with your eager black head and eyes sharper than Mrs. Sullivan's tongue,.} ^ . 
We used to roam the streets in our patched overalls' with our homemade 
coasters and life was eager and brave. I think the poet was in you then. We 
covered the city and always your eyes were eager at the clean beauty of it all. 
And I think the rebel was in you then, too. We fought the battle of the little 
guys and baited the bullies with fine indignation. ... I can see you yet with 
your eyes blazing, teeth gritted and anger as big as a forest fire. You sailed 
into the enemy, rolling, kicking, punching, bouncing up deadly furious. Their 
whole gang finally pulled away in sheer respect for your courage. Your clothes 
were in rags, your nose bleeding and two beautiful black eyes sat like plums on 
your cheeks. You were magnificent and then you laughed and we all laughed. 

"It was natural that your friends were seamen and longshoremen and fine 
working stiffs everywhere. I can remember even as a kid your sensitive reaction 
to the poverty and the goodness and the courageous, sad wit of those Irish 
fathers and mothers and the street urchins that we all were. They were brick- 
layers and plasterers and laborers of all sorts and many a crust of bread was 
shared around. ..." 

Mike Quin reflected some of this spirit in his poem "Dialectics" in 1937, 
when he dwelt on a miserly old man who exploited sewing women, paying 
them so little that they couldn't afford to send their kids to the circus. He 
wrote, simulating a child's fury: 

"If 7 wasn't little 
If 1 wasn't little 
I'd show this town; 

XXI 



When I grow up 
When I grow up 
I'll crack that old rat down!' 

He remembered how he was taken to see the shiny new machine and lavish 
display of goods at the World's Fair; but the coming of more and more 
automobiles was associated in his mind with the displacement of fine old 
craftsmen, harness makers who were friends of the family. 

He saw, too, how the clumsy bi-planes in which men like Lincoln Beach ie 
first flew were rapidly improved — and turned into weapons of death. For soon 
afterwards the war in Europe began. 

War, which was to become so important a theme for his writing, was the 
source of his first attempt at verse, written when he was about ten years old. 
He saw: 

"A thousand mothers sit in grief 
Without a soul to bring relief." 

Within a year he was to be confused by the swift change of tune from "I 
Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier," to "The Yanks Are Coming!" He was 
to learn much later who had paid the piper. 

Also associated with this period were memories of puzzling over the 
newspaper photographs of Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, who in 1916 
were alleged to have bombed the Preparedness Day Parade and were sentenced, 
one to death, the other to life imprisonment. The meaning of the phrase "frame- 
up" was not yet known to him. When he grew up, gained knowledge and 
understanding and took part in the fight to' free these two victims of class 
war, his writing contained a fire of anger at the lies fed to him as a boy. 

As long as he could remember, his family had struggled hard to make a 
living. His grandmother made gowns for ladies whom she called, one and all, 
"Mrs. Richbitch." Later she ran rooming houses, and here was the source of 
his feeling about the army of homeless people living in "the vast empire of 
drab furnished rooms, faded wallpaper, patched carpets . • . where poverty 
was crowded in tired old houses." 

He remembered how the bands stopped playing when the war ended. There 
were lots of new millionaires, but the poor reaped a "shabby harvest" of 
unemployment, union-smashing, and political corruption. On top of this the 
air became "dirty with death" from the influenza epidemic. Paul, a slight, 
bright-eyed boy, was glad to help earn the family income by delivering medi- 
cine to the sick. But the greedy druggist who hired him presently reduced the 
small delivery fee. Paul told his grandmother, who gave the druggist a tongue 
lashing that delighted the boy and added several words to his vocabulary. 

XXII 



On another occasion he worked after school hours in a department store, a 
lush world of fancy goods where the help did not dare sit down to rest theii 
swollen feet. When Paul grew tired he stood with an angry look on his face, 
ready to explode in rebellion, and an adult worker warned him: "Don't think. 
Otherwise you won't be able to stand it". This he indignantly rejected. Not to 
think was like cutting off an arm. He later called such meek submission to 
exploitation "Slave Psychology." And whenever he faced a knotty problem, he 
used to recite: 

f( To think without confusion, clearly, 
To love your fellow men sincerely!' 

He carried dreams away from school when he was fifteen. He was ready to 
put his best foot forward and amount to something. Dreams, he used to say, are 
hard to shake, especially when the young mind is fully aroused to decent 
principles of living by conscientious teachers. But the contrast between dream 
and reality was stark and frustrating. The post-war depression of the early 
'twenties was in full swing, and Paul Ryan's world was peopled with "jobless 
workers and hungry children who didn't know where their next meal was 
coming from, and whores, beggars, thieves, confidence men." Only tycoons, 
corporation executives, and financial lords with enormous power lived in a 
world of well-being. 

He hunted systematically for work, an eager, puzzled, black-haired boy, 
combing building after building in street after street. He was a "boy in the 
rain," an image that deepened as his understanding grew, until "The Man In 
the Rain" became the symbol of the underdog, the unwanted, the downtrodden 
and exploited whose very existence poses a threat to the security and progress 
of mankind. 

At last, after promising to stay on the job and work himself up, he was 
permitted to dust boxes of hosiery for a few dollars a week. By noon the 
prospect looked grim, and he quit at lunchtime. Obviously, he thought, he 
wouldn't amount to anything at all. What would his family say? 

Luckily, on the way home, he used the technique of just walking into places 
at random and asking for a job> and he was hired as poolroom attendant — 
which shocked his family until he added slyly, "In the Y.M.C.A." 

He found enough leisure during slack hours to write labored verse and 
attempts at fiction, which he concealed from the family except for his sister, 
Alice, nicknamed Muff, who was sympathetic to his imaginative flights. He 
also studied science by correspondence, so that he could learn something about 
the nature of the world he lived in. and understand the natural causes of events 
and catastrophes, which are described by "calendars and insurance policies as 

XXI 1 1 



'acts of God'." But this was "unprofitable" pastime. Under family pressure to 
launch into the world of trade, he took a course in business correspondence, 
learning a lesson in conciseness which he summed up in the song title: "Say 
What You Have To Say, Then Say Goodbye." 

His next job was in a stock and bond house, where suave salesmen in 
handsome offices unloaded "booming" stocks on a speculation-minded public. 
Life was a continuous snarl of ticker-tapes, accompanied by bawdy stories, much 
cigar smoke, pathetic gullibility and greedy acumen. A distorted world, in 
which the general attitude was that "the ^ood rose up like bubbles and the evil 
sank like stones. Yelling at people over telephones was the road to wealth, 
importance, and respectability;" and the growing of food, building of houses, 
manufacture of goods was considered of trivial importance. 

Presently, having discovered the world of good books and good music, he 
was more determined than ever to become a writer. He moved into his own 
room away from home, out of range of family scepticism. It was during this 
sortie into independent living that he met Fritz Orton, the friend from the other 
side of 1 the tracks, who, a decade later, was to follow Paul into the labor move- 
ment, and who ultimately died fighting fascism in Spain. But then they were 
young bloods, all of sixteen, full of adolescent yearnings, and together the* 
encountered commercialized vice and the distorted morals of the alley. 

After a series of jobs, Paul became unemployed at a time when Fritz was 
studying philosophy at Stanford University. Fritz smuggled his friend into a 
students' dormitory, and he slid quietly into classrooms to absorb some higher 
learning. He found it dull and unreal, lacking the breath of life. Sometimes 
they sat up half the night discussing knotty problems — and, as he wrote later, 
"going around in circles." He little knew that in years to come, when the shock 
of the depression aroused demands for clear, honest thinking, his own fables 
and stories would be circulated in English, Journalism and Philosophy classes 
in various colleges. 

Back in San Francisco, he worked in an insurance office for "a pale old man 
with a brain like an adding machine." In two years he worked himself up to 
managing a department. But he was never surer that he did not belong in tfie 
business world; that somehow, sometime, he would become a recognized writer. 
After work hours he would stroll homeward through Portsmouth Square, 
pausing to study the "quiet formula for living" which he read into the Robert 
Louis Stevenson memorial plaque. Then he would climb Russian Hill and look 
put over the bay, picking out ships and dreaming of adventure, before turning 
into his room to write. 

He had been making his living for some years now, had his fling at the 
dubious pleasures that were supposed to make a man of him. Yet the long 
narratives and epic verse he wrote reflected immaturity. He knew he needed to 

XXIV 



broaden his experience, experience that he would not get in the office, where 
he felt condemned to "pass a life of identical days." He quit, and went to sea. 
He was then nineteen. 

His years at sea were to provide a rich source of impression and fact, 
emotion and experience, to enrich his later writing. He liked the easy-going 
companionship of seamen of all races. He was shocked when a seaman spoke 
slightingly of Conrad's "Nigger of the Narcissus" for its implied racial 
discrimination. He became aware of realities about seagoing which seldom crept 
into the smooth sea novels and narratives he had read. He experienced exploita- 
tion, and came to despise caste and class. He learned at first hand the meaning 
of "fink" hiring halls and how the maritime unions had been smashed during 
the post-war reactionary hysteria. 

During this succession of trips he sailed through the Canal and to the 
Orient, and saw a great part of the world. About the time he was thinking of 
quitting the sea to devote his full time to writing, he met a stowaway, an old- 
time "wobbly." They talked often. The stowaway shattered many of Paul's 
literary idols, saying that they had "twisted their brains" blaming the messiness 
of the world on anything but the true cause — private profit-making. 

This remark stuck in his mind. His own life-long association with poverty 
and the bitter struggle of working people to exist were not reflected in most 
of the books he had read. He puzzled over this fact. Not until he went to Los 
Angeles to visit his family, and found a job in a Hollywood bookstore, did he 
realize that the people who profit from books were like all other profit-makers, 
bound by the same twisted moral codes and mode of thought. This was shortly 
before the shattering impact of the Wall Street crash in 1929. 

Hollywood impressed him as an extraordinary place. Highly paid movie 
people browsed in the store, buying best-sellers, first editions, rare books, 
classics with expensive bindings, erotica — and perhaps even the pornography 
which some bookstores bootlegged. Some of them spent more for one order 
than the book salesman made in a month. 

He wrote steadily in his off hours. By that time he had a trunk full of long 
narrative novels, epic verse, fantasies, children's stories, and enough rejection 
slips to paper his room. He had written fine poems with haunting lines. Still 
they did not sell. Something was wrong with the whole set-up, he knew. But 
he didn't know the answers yet. 

During the period of the crash he felt the need for flight from the posed 
and studied atmosphere of movieland. With equally impious fellow salesmen 
he often went down to Main Street in Los Angeles, seeking reality where 
"people didn't care so much how they looked, and talked in natural voices." 

On one of these excursions he was to find his fighting name. It was a case 
of mistaken identity. An old Irishman, his brain fogged with beer and bitters, 

XXV 



came up to Paul Ryan in a bar and exclaimed: "Mike Quin! My God, where ya 
been all these years?" Mike Quin, it seemed, was his old buddy, one of the best 
high-tension linemen on the Pacific Coast. 

The night was spent drinking and telling yarns. A Negro played a guitar 
and all the men in the bar sang. Hours afterwards they broke up. The old 
Irishman was stupefied. Paul and his companion took the old man to a Main 
Street hotel and bought him two weeks' room rent. They were getting the old 
man into bed when a burly cop arrived and started chasing them out, saying 
they had no business in that part of town and the cops knew how to handle 
bums. 

"Mike Quin" told him off in an angry burst of eloquence. "You could have 
hard luck, too, and not know where your next meal was coming from. How 
would you like to be out in that rain — with no place to sleep?" With his nose 
at the level of the third button on the cop's uniform, he cried, "You don't 
scare me. Go on, take me in. I dare you." The cop laughed, nodded to the hotel 
proprietor, and walked out. 

There again was "the man in the rain," symbol of the people squeezed and 
oppressed and exploited, discarded by employers because of their age, hounded 
by authority. Paul Ryan was being metamorphosed into their fighting 
champion, "Mike Quin." 

His companion on that night comments: "The old man was right. All his 
life Mike was to do his work where the voltage was high. No one could hear 
him talk, or read what he wrote, without, like the old man at the bar, catching 
an echo of the anger or the laughter of someone he had once known, of a 
gandy-dancer working on the tracks out of Butte, or a 'hot' lineman up North 
by the name of Mike Quin." 

The men in the rain were multiplying rapidly as the depression deepened. 
Paul Ryan's outlook on life began to take shape as he pieced together his 
scattered life experiences and related them to the social and economic chaos 
which was then becoming so plain that all could see the stark, dreadful objec- 
tive facts, if not comprehend their inner meaning. He compared the panic of 
1929 to an incident aboard ship, when a practical joker heaved a live armadillo 
into a crowded fo'c'sle. He waxed satiric over the fact that thousands of men 
hitherto favored by private enterprise had leaped to death out of high buildings, 
thus being first-class critics of the profit system. He called the mock battle 
staged in Petaluma by chicken farmers, with an unsaleable surplus of eggs as 
ammunition, "a gigantic omelet." 

Soon there would be seventeen million unemployed. Such an army of people 
could hardly annihilate themselves; besides, it was against the law. They shook 
themselves unbelievingly at first, sank into apathy for a while, then began 
fighting for life. Men, women and children wandered homeless and dazed 

XXVI 



throughout the country. They slept under bridges, in open fields. They 
converted the shoddy acreage on the outskirts of city and town and hamlet 
into vast and shameful slums, which they named "Hoovervilles." They went 
hungry, while surplus food was being destroyed. 

A terrible anger was rising in the land. People were asking questions of 
the scholars, the economists, the teachers and the writers. All the guiding 
principles and values of the past were being challenged. Literature, art, social 
theory — all the mental baggage of private enterprise — were due to be over- 
hauled. 

Paul Ryan re-evaluated literature, his passionate avocation, in this light. 
Most books, he found, either evaded problems of injustice and suffering or 
attributed them to the waywardness of human character rather than to the 
complex of social causes now so nakedly evident. There had been strong voices 
in the past, writers like Jack London and Upton Sinclair, who had spoken out 
against the stupid customs and social wrongs of their day, but such voices 
seemed few in America of depression days. Obviously the finding of the right 
mate, the "magic" personal philosophy, and other "literary" solutions held 
no answer for the widespread starvation that prevailed. 

He turned to the companionship of fellow writers who were reorganizing 
their lives and their thinking. One of them, a Marxist for many years, used to 
stop by late at night. The two would talk for hours. This friend left Marxist 
books and pamphlets, and Paul studied them avidly, testing the validity of 
words and phrases in the reality of things. The lies and half-truths with which 
society had guided itself during so-called prosperity were exposed for what 
they were. Now the entire pattern of his life, the stored- away experiences which 
had given rise to unanswered questions, the feeling of being alone and groping 
helplessly in anger, became, clear and gave rise to understanding and determina- 
tion. 

He saw the terrible effect of the depression on neighbors, who themselves 
starving, couldn't afford to feed a litter of kittens, and chloroformed and buried 
them. Presently one of the kittens struggled through the loose earth, and had 
to be killed. Paul, drawn from his writing, stood watching the scene, and 
angrily exclaimed: "My God, how much humiliation can a human being 
stand." 

One night when working in the bookshop, marking down "duds" for a 
sale, he threw a pretentiously-bound volume on the dime table and cried: "Look 
at them! We'll have to rewrite every damn word — and tell the truth!" 

The first story he wrote in this vein, a depression piece called "The Sacred 
Thing," sold to Scribner's magazine and was chosen by O'Brien as a "best 
short story." The mood of his writing had changed. The former ironic challenge 
to stupidity and pompousness, the humorous and satiric gift that flavored his 

XXVII 



past writing, was now overshadowed by anger. He pounded the desk of his 
machine as he sought words, phrases, forms of story telling with which to 
convey the wrath and the spirit of struggle which grew out of his new under- 
standing. "Mike Quin" was born. 

Mike Quin found warm companionship, understanding, and a lively at- 
mosphere of discussion and debate in the John Reed Club of Hollywood, an 
organization named in honor of a socially minded poet and journalist who 
had reported the Mexican and Russian revolution in fine prose, and who had 
taken part in some of the great labor struggles before the first World War. 
His fellow writers and artists were seeking to use their talents in the service 
of the people. 

It was typical of Mike Quin that he should go directly to the source of 
his materials. Night after night he sat in Los Angeles courtrooms watching 
the endless parade of homeless youngsters being brought in from freight yards 
and highway approaches, booked for "vagrancy," and ground in the legal 
mill. He talked to judges, policemen, and hundreds of the homeless boys and 
girls. Here indeed was literature springing directly out of the problems, needs, 
and struggles of the people. He worked over his material, confirmed it in 
further conversations, and with a young Mexican artist composed and printed 
on a small hand press the famous pamphlet on homeless youth, "We Are 
Millions," with which this volume begins. 

With the boundless energy and dogged determination that were to amaze 
all who subsequently worked with him, he launched into new ventures. 

He visited railroad stations to talk with Mexican workers who had har- 
vested crops and built roads and bridges all over California, and who were 
being rounded up and deported as unwanted "hands." He visited Imperial 
Valley to report strikes by agricultural workers whose wages were down to 
starvation levels. He witnessed fascist-like raids by the infamous "Captain" 
Hynes, an anti-red expert who specialized in industrial espionage and the 
terrorizing of people who fought for living wages, unemployment relief, 
freedom of speech and expression. He saw the wrecking of art works by 
vigilante-vandals in the headquarters of the John Reed Club. These, and many 
other subjects he wrote into articles and stories for his own club organ, 
Partisan. He also began to write for the New Masses and the Western Worker 
(which preceded the People's World). 

He was struck by the courage of a visiting Japanese novelist who was 
returning to Japan fully aware of the fact that he would be jailed under the 
"Dangerous Thoughts" act, recently passed by the fascist-military clique which 
had come to power. 

- He made discoveries at a rapid pace. Soon he realized that the spontaneous 
struggles arising out of the plight of desperate people needed the coordinating 

XXVIII 



and directing abilities of a militant, well-informed political organization. 
Commenting on this period, in his unfinished book, he wrote: "It was in- 
evitable that I should join the Communist Party." 

His writing during the next fourteen years testifies to the wholeheartedness 
and effectiveness with which he entered into the life of the working class 
movement. His passionate devotion to labor, his unique talent, and his warmth 
of .spirit won him staunch comrades aryd admirers from the first. 

In 1934 he returned to San Francisco and plunged into the maritime strike 
then raging. After the General Strike, when vigilantes began their crusade 
of terror and wrecked the Western Worker office, he helped bring out the 
"underground" edition of the paper, an historic document which includes his 
verse about the two workers murdered during the Battle of Rincon Mill, 
"These Are the Class War Dead." 

He continued working for the paper, first as editor, then as columnist 
and roving reporter. The<;e strenuous days, when every member of the staff 
did the work of two men, and many fell ill, Mike Quia plugged away at his 
typewriter to the point of exhaustion. His columns, ver?e, jingles, feature 
stories and witty comments became widely known among maritime workers, 
tor whom he wrote often and directly in the union rank- and -file paper "The 
Waterfront Worker," His fame spread to the entire Pacific Coast* then to the 
nation, with his coverage of strikes, the long and persistent struggle by em- 
ployers to ^gQt" Harry Bridges, the Criminal Syndicalism trial in Sacramento, 
and his voluminous writings about Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, Jim 
MeNamara, and the many other labor prisoners. 

He visited prisons often, and while first of ail reflecting the causes and 
moods and needs of the labor prisoners, also reflected on prisoners and prisons 
irj general. He called prisons, "Monuments erected by capitalism to mark its 
Failure." 

During the 1936-37 maritime strike he worked with the strike committee, 
devising new methods of publicity, employing dramatic radio narrative with 
the aid of young actors. The research he did at this time, reaching far back 
into maritime union history, revealing the mulcting of the government by 
greedy shipowners through subsidies, and embracing the entire period before 
and after the General Strike, prompted him to write the history of the West 
Coast maritime struggle. 

At that time he was employed by the Writers' Project, and after putting 
in his full stint> writing a historv of cotton growing in California, he worked 
at night on his own book, "The General Strike." This full-length, docu- 
mented study was not published. No orthodox pub&sher would touch it^t 
Ihe time. Later a new house specializing in cheap book publishing offered to 
bring it out if the author would "guarantee the sale of one-hundred thousand 

XXIX 



copies." He derived a small return from the book by renting it to Fortune 
magazine and to the novelist Charles Norris, who had evinced an interest 
in labor and was writing a novel for which he required authentic background. 

His column was again appearing in the Western Worker, and would con- 
tinue to appear in the new Daily People's World, which was launched in 1938. 
In the meanwhile, convinced of the need for consistent radio programs to 
combat the enormous publicity resources of the employers, he sold the idea 
to the CIO and was made Public Relations Director for California. For several 
years, in his daily columns and radio programs, he turned out five to ten 
thousand words a day. It was during this period that he initiated the Longshore 
Hiring Hall radio calls to work gangs. They were stopped because they were 
encroaching on the profit domain of the telephone company, but were renewed 
in 1942 to speed the war effort. 

Reading the huge bulk of his work, spread across the years and embracing 
an entire spiral of historic growth and change, one comes across periods when 
the gravity of events profoundly affected his spirit, and his work. At such 
times he often felt the need for sharp, direct writing without resort to literary 
imagery and the deft touches of satire and humor which made his writing 
so popular. 

Such periods were: the mass arrests and subsequent trials following the 
General Strike; the landing of Franco's Moors and fascist mercenaries in Spain 
to crush democracy and initiate a chain of events leading to war in Europe; 
and again when Chamberlain and Daladier with their dirty "Munich" deal 
brought war one step nearer. 

On September 1, 1939, Hitler marched into Poland. Two days later France 
and Britain reluctantly declared war against Germany, realizing that despite 
the bribe of Munich the Nazis would not carry out their bargain to attack the 
Soviet Union. That afternoon the "Athenia" was sunk. 

Mike Quin and his first wife, Rose, were swimming in a public pool when 
the news came over the loud speaker. "Like everyone else," he wrote, "I 
stopped to tread water. The lapping of waves around me made the thing seem 
so real I could almost hear the screams of the victims." He returned home 
very thoughtful and disturbed. 

When Warsaw was sacked by the Nazis, an ominous brooding seized the 
entire world. War aims and military conduct by the Allies were marked with 
hesitation and confusion. Two major currents of thought and feelings about 
the war arose in democratic nations: one originating with the old monopolist 
and empire-holding gang, whose foremost desire was that the Soviet Union be 
destroyed; the other originating with the masses of the people, who wished 
to preserve themselves and whatever democratic rights they had, from the 
ravages of the fascist war machine. The war was then in its "phony" period, 

XXX 



and sensitive and intelligent people like Mike Quin tried hard to discern the 
future through the fog of obscurity that prevailed. 

There were still many problems at home to be solved. The waterfront 
employers were shunting box-cars laden with "hot" cargo into warehouse after 
warehouse, causing a shutdown in their open shop drive. Some quarter million 
migratory workers, many of whom had been "tractored" out of farm and 
farmhouse, were wandering homeless through fertile valley regions, "caught 
in the pincers of poverty." There were still some ten million unemployed in 
the land, of whom he wrote: 

"Statisticians count their noses, doctors look down their throats, psycholo- 
gists put them through examinations, and social workers investigate their well- 
thumbed case histories. When they're all through, the people are still unem- 
ployed." 

He remembered the last war and its aftermath, but now had profound 
knowledge to supplement his childhood experience. He hummed "The Yanks 
Are Coming," one day as he worked on a pamphlet. When the Maritime 
Federation of the Pacific brought out his pamphlet against participation in the 
still "phony" war, it was called "The Yanks Are Not Coming/' It reached 
an enormous audience, attracting such nationwide attention that Walter 
Winchell referred to the author as one of America's most dangerous men. 

His sudden fame, accompanied by invitations to a host of meetings and 
other activities, made him feel like "a man on a pogo stick." Once an invitation 
to speak, along with many respectable public figures, was cancelled because 
Mike Quin was "such a well known Red." He was angry. He waited until 
the meeting had begun, walked boldly down the center aisle and took his seat 
on the platform. The chairman remonstrated. Mike threatened to walk up to 
the "mike" and ad lib a speech that would "scorch the pants off the sponsors 
of the meeting." He won his point, and delivered his prepared speech. 

He had a quality of youngness that lingered throughout the years. Some- 
times people familiar with the strength of his writing would, on meeting him 
for the first time, make him shrink by saying: "Oh, you are Mike Quin." Even 
people more or less familiar with him would be surprised when he flared in 
eloquent anger over some particular injustice, social stupidity, or violation of 
the truth. 

When Elizabeth Gurley Flynn visited San Francisco in 1940, she inter- 
viewed the famous author of "The Yanks Are Not Coming." She found him 
"quite unlike the bubbling, expansive Irishman that his witty columns, social 
and political satires, magnificent slogans and stirring poetry" had made her 
imagine him. "He is slight, has nice dark hair and smiling eyes. But he does 
not talk much nor easily, is refreshingly modest. Mike has the gift of reducing 
to absurdity the most pompous jingoistic slogans, in a few biting words. His 

XXXI 



words are simple, salty, plain proletarian language, Jbut as workers really do 
talk, not the exaggerated or vulgar 'proletarian lingo' some writers affect." 

During this period his talent was reaching an ever wider audience. He 
became known to theatre-goers in Hollywood and New York when his "Bongo 
and Wowsy" sketch was included in the musica'l production "Meet the People." 

In 1940 the People's World issued a collection of his work in a volume 
entitled "Dangerous Thoughts." Theodore Dreiser, then living in Hollywood, 
wrote to the author: 



Dear Mr. Quin: 

I fear that I cannot convey to you how keenly I appreciate the merit of 
your book, Dangerous Thoughts. It is so ripe in social and economic observa- 
tion, so new in method, so vigorous, refreshing and wholly true. And, con- 
sidering the world old record of man's inhumanity to man, as well as our 
present social indecency and cruelty, it is so wholly devastating. It should be 
laid before the eyes of the whole world and I hope it will be. Personally I 
will do all I can to increase the number of its readers. 

Incidentally for me it has not only genuine art value, but truly startling 
and illuminating intellectual force— the type of concentrated essence of social 
logic and philosophy and irony to be found in Finley Peter Dunne (Phil- 
osopher Dooley) and George Ade (Fables in Slang). In spots I am reminded 
of Rabelais, Voltaire and Thomas Paine. 

I wish heartily to congratulate you and I hope, of course, that you will 
go on illuminating as you so brilliantly do and can, our present dismal and 
decaying social travesty as this holds not only in Europe and the United States, 
but, apart from Russia, the world over. . . . 

Sincerely, 

. • . (Theodore Dreiser) 



They corresponded, exchanging opinions and views. They met when 
Dreiser spoke at a public meeting. Mike Quin reported that meeting, describ- 
ing now Dreiser spoke so artlessly and directly, never mincing words, about 

XXXII 



the need for socialism in America; and how the audience was "glassy-eyed" 
with the direct and forceful impact of the message of "America's greatest 
living writer." 

In 1941 Theodore Dreiser wrote the introduction to the second collection 
of Mike Quin's columns, "More Dangerous Thoughts." And when the People's 
World published one of Mike's serials, "The Enemy Within," Dreiser praised 
it highly for its humor, characterized it as "a social farce fit for stage produc- 
tion almost as it stands" and urged Mike Quin to consider writing plays. 

History does not stand still. Wars, like people, can change character. 
Change expressed itself more and more as the war spread and deepened its 
effects. Presently the author of "The Yanks Are Not Coming" was to write 
"strange words, but the cause of peace must reckon on new truths and see to 
it that the Yanks are not coming too late." He preferred logic to dogma. For 
within little more than a year the Nazis had overrun many countries whose 
people generated resistance and underground movements that foreshadowed 
the emergence of a New Europe. On June 22, 1941, the Nazis, fearful of the 
growing might of the Red Army, which was engaged in offensive and de- 
fensive maneuvers, and, having reached the height of their own war potential, 
invaded the Soviet Union, thus involving the only socialist country in the war. 
Finally, the Axis powers extended their bid for world dominance with the 
treachery of Pearl Harbor. 

When his radio program ended Mike was invited to New York to write 
for the Daily Worker. The treachery of Pearl Harbor happened while he was 
ambling home via the Southern route seeing something of his native land. At 
Los Angeles he spoke over the radio, and took part in a Communist Party 
meeting (by candle-light, due to the blackout) to mobilize party members for 
the win-the-war effort. % 

When he reached San Francisco he got an assignment close to his heart, 
and during the next two years wrote more fine columns and feature stories 
on the wartime role of maritime workers. But while he wholeheartedly sup- 
ported unity to win the war, he was dubious about the durability of unity 
between capital and labor, and he kept the lessons of the past alive in the 
minds of his readers. 

In 1943 he was offered the chance to compete with slick radio script writers 
in a tryout-f or ' the CIO "Facts to Fight Fascism" radio program. The com- 
peting scripts were heard in a luxurious hotel room, in an atmosphere which 
made him feel uncomfortable. But the sincerity of his script won him the 
job, and from early 1943 to June 1, 1945, he was known as "The CIO Reporter 
On the Air." He reported the progress of the war, the proceedings of the 
United Nations conference in San Francisco, and events up to and beyond 
VE Day. 

XXXIII 



At first he had trouble with voice control. He had never been too effective 
a public speaker, and now he suffered from "mike" fright. He practised 
in a determined way. One day he was angered and humiliated on discovering 
that the station staff members had clustered about an "open mike" to listen. 
However, he was soon laughing with them. Their smiling admiration for his 
persistence, his humor, and forthright honesty of his news reporting, together 
with encouragement from Paul Schnur of the CIO, made him keep trying 
until at last he grasped the technique of radio delivery. When he was reporting 
the United Nations conference he invented a character to represent himself. 
"Humble Mr. Griggs," who represented a tiny national minority newspaper, 
voiced his worry over the failure of delegates to implement "noble words" 
with constructive deeds. He talked with people on the street, and reported 
their opinions as to the shape of the world they needed, but these had no 
counterpart in the United Nations proceedings. 

Mike Quin felt terribly disturbed. Long ago, in the columns he wrote for 
the ILWU Dispatcher and the People's World, he anticipated the post-war 
efforts of reactionaries to give the "green light" to the press, to twist the 
direction of life away from progress and towards a slimy, menacing "green 
world," by renewing savage red-baiting and moves to encircle the Soviet 
Union. He was nevertheless shocked when this happened. The peace was 
indeed uneasy. He was all the more regretful when his radio program ended 
on June 1, 1945. 

In the fall of 1945 he prepared a series of broadcasts for the National 
Maritime Union, and one for the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union. Then 
he made a trip into the field for the food and tobacco workers, broadcasting 
from local valley stations in the campaign for bargaining representation in 
California's canneries. When he returned to San Francisco he was desperately 
tired. 

By this time he had met and married Mary King O'Donnell and was 
building a happy family life and Successfully developing his career as a 
mystery story writer in addition to his political writing. But he felt an ominous 
sense of urgency about the state of the woild, and was much distressed by 
happenings in the Communist Party. He was to evaluate this at a later date, 
more or less in the following terms: 

Movements, like people, like wars, like all social relationships, are subject 
to the laws of change. 

No movement is quite so subject to the tensions and pressures of social 
forces as the political party which leads the historic fight for the people's 
rights and the establishment of socialism; for thereby it focusses on itself all 
the forces of capitalism, which, inherently reactionary, uses all possible 

XXXIV 



weapons — direct terror, legal oppression, bribery and corruption, and ceaseless 
spread of false ideas — to combat the movement of social change. 

During the years of unity of all classes and categories of people to win the 
war, the Communist Party became dominated by views of compromise and 
reformism which became known as "Browderism," after their chief exponent, 
Earl Browder. This took the form of playing down propaganda for socialism, 
liquidating the party organization and principles of struggle, and spreading 
illusions about the likelihood of capitalist and worker being able to collaborate 
in reconstructing the post-war world on the basis of peace and progress. 

VE Day had barely passed than the brutal truth — that class antagonisms 
are inherent in capitalist relationships — became starkly apparent. The Com- 
munist Party, being based on the principle of painstaking analysis and self- 
correction of mistakes, began to examine the experience of the war years, 
adjust itself to reality and set a sound course for the future. This was a painful 
process: it led to organizational upheavals, sharp and sometimes acrimonious 
discussions, broken friendships; to desertions by some who preferred the com- 
fortable illusions of Browderism and some others who swung to the equally 
dangerous extreme "Leftism" and joined what he called "grumbling little 
groups." It led to expulsions for disruptive and undisciplined conduct, attempts 
to split the party, and active factional struggle against party policies and 
principles. 

Mike Quin had sensed the need for this self-criticism in the party long 
before. He readily admitted that he had not always been right, but he was 
adamant on the question of renewing propaganda for socialism promptly and 
effectively. He was urgent in his demand for speed because the world was all 
too evidently due for another terrible depression — and possibly an atomic 
war. But for all his impatience he never lost faith in the masses of the people, 
in his comrades, and in processes of self-correction of the Communist Party. 
He remained loyal to the party and its principles to the day of his death. 

Throughout the uneasy peace he wrote for the Dispatcher. Since his radio 
program had ended he had become established as $ mystery novel writer 
under the pen name of Robert Finnegan, a course he had undertaken to secure 
his personal finances and free himself to do direct writing for the people. 
Hosts of stories were dancing in his brain, crying for birth: novels, columns, 
short stories, a play on the life of Karl Marx. He was truly at the height of 
his creative power. But he was tired, desperately tired, from thirteen years of 
almost uninterrupted writing under deadline pressure. 

A year before, he and his wife had rented a shack as a place to work. 
They called it "The Ranch." It stood on a vacant lot high on Telegraph Hill, 
where they could overlook the harbor and the Embarcadero. Here, in late 
1945, Mike hoped to rest for a while before starting an extensive program of 

XXXV 



writing. He had barely begun to relax when word came from Los Angeles 
that his brother had .been seriously injured. He hurried south. By the time 
he was free to return home he was haggard and worn and had contracted a 
cold. He was given penicillin treatment and spent a month m bed. 

When he was reasonably well again he began to work, turning out his 
regular Dispatcher columns and working on a second mystery novel. Presently 
he began writing a back-log of articles in preparation for fenewing his 
column in the People's World. The proposed three-a-week schedule meant 
some lightening of work pressure. However, he tired more easily; though as 
always he tried to throw off his weariness and was uncomplaining. 

In July, 1946, his daughter Colin Michaela was born. With two writers 
and a baby in the family, quarters were cramped. The prospects of getting 
adequate living and working space were not too bright. 

Illness was nagging at him. The political situation, growing tight and 
tense once more with its threats of an atomic war and the foreshadowing of 
another terrible depression, angered him. 

His first columns in the People's World appeared in late 1946. They 
plunged directly to the heart of the problem, as it appeared to him, in straight 
narrative form. Some of his readers protested: they wanted a lighter touch — ■ 
his satire, verse, humor. He retorted somewhat sharply, but wrote a series of 
characterizations' of worker types in verse, then returned to straight narrative, 
with a series of columns which he had carefully planned, and which he hoped 
would eventually be published in pamphlet form. 

In early 1947 he decided to look for larger quarters. He learned to drive 
a car, and searched the countryside across the bay, hoping to find a house 
with enough ground to satisfy a life-long urge to grow things. There was an 
urgency about this need, somehow. It may well have stemmed from an ominous 
feeling about the pain that was beginning to gnaw inside him. 

He found a house and orchard for sale at Olema, in a setting of beautiful 
countryside. The small orchard was overgrown and cluttered with the debris 
of fifty years. The scattered buildings were in need of repair. But the place 
had potentialities that 8elighted him. He hesitated before deciding to take 
it, because there was a curious uncertainty about his ability to accomplish what 
he wished to do. Months were to pass before he reached this haven, and then 
the circumstances were tragic. 

By February, 1947, his strength was waning. Despite the aid of a dictating 
machine he had to stop writing his columns. Now the symptoms of his illness 
were alarming. He felt so badly one day, after walking to the Dispatcher office 
with copy for his last column, that he decided to see a doctor. 

He was taken to a hospital for diagnosis, which produced no definite re- 
sults. He was home for two weeks, and again went to a hospital this time for 

XXXVI 



an exploratory operation. A call went out over the radio for blood donors, 
and old friends and comrades and maritime union members responded. 

The news was dire. He was suffering from an advanced stage of cancer 
and was given a mere two months to live. He was not told immediately. He 
convalesced from the operation, a well-loved, cheerful patient. When he left 
to go home he shadow-boxed and danced a very feeble horn-pipe down the 
hall for the amusement of the nurses, who had come to admire and respect him. 

He learned the news just before the family moved to Olema. He smoked 
a cigarette and discussed the facts calmly, as though he had. to some degree 
been prepared for the worst. 

The Olema orchard, in early May, was alive with birds and colorful with 
bloom. He opened the small Mouse and sat watching and joking while the 
place took on a lived-in air. Next morning he walked about the place, touch- 
ing the long grass, watching the birds, estimating the work needed to clear 
away the debris and put the buildings in shape for the living. 

He went with his wife to the store and bought a profusion of flower seeds, 
sowing them helter-skelter in a small plot of turned earth. There was beautiful 
excitement when presently the seeds sprouted and poked shoots above ground. 

He was forced to use a cane when walking. He made a game of it, bending 
over and drawing battle maps on the ground like a Civil War veteran. But 
there were moments when the restrictions of illness and the ominous, final 
deadline hanging over him had evident effect. He studied the rusting tools in 
the abandoned smithy, and shook his head sadly. He loved tools and was 
deft in their uses. He would have been happy if he could do the work needed 
to put everything shipshape. He always kept his tools as neat and clean as he 
did his papers. But this rusting axe head — it hurt him. 

He had worked hard all his life. He worked as hard as he Gould during 
those fkial months. The day after he arrived in Olema he began to write what 
was to have been his last and all-embracing book, an autobiographical story 
of an "ordinary man" condensing past, present, and future — for to Mike life 
was unthinkable without struggle for the emancipation of mankind from wars 
and poverty amid plenty; and past and present were dead unless they pointed 
onward into history. 

He worked sitting in the garden, dictating on a machine, pausing to play 
with his baby daughter in the playpen by his side or to watch the birds- in 
flight. Sometimes he crouched by the flower bed, and though his movements 
were taut with pain he neatly plucked weeds. 

The pain grew worse. He refused to pamper himself, and fought doggedly 
to retain his ability to move about, to work, to finish his book. Once, when 
asked if he thought about deaih, he answered* "I never pursue an unprofitable 
line of thought." 

XXXVII 



One day he visited the tiny two-story outbuilding which he had chosen on 
first sight to be his writing quarters. He couldn't climb the stairs. The rooms 
would have to be cleaned and painted before they could be used. He knew 
he would never use them. He and his wife talked quietly: the place was ideal 
for young writers who had something to say to the people and needed privacy 
for their writing. 

He was pleased with the thought: this microcosm, which, like society as 
a whole, needed to be tidied and organized and made habitable amid the 
surrounding beauty, would become a place where young artists could continue 
sowing the seeds of thought and action, as all writers and artists beloved of 
the people had done. 

Secretly, painfully, as the nagging pain grew worse and the time grew 
short, he walked about the grounds, poking in the rich earth with the tip of 
his cane, dropping seeds that were to grow and flower much later — and be 
discovered when he had gone. 

He was moved into San Francisco for treatment with a new serum in its 
experimental stage. He stayed in the apartment of a friend high on Telegraph 
Hill, and as long as he could walk he looked out over the harbor and the 
Embarcadero, and every day he listened for the noon whistle from the Ferry 
Building. He worked very little now, but when he did he sat up straight as 
always, and edited his writing with all the old preciseness. He spent his forty- 
first birthday while waiting for the serum, which was delayed. His humor 
never left him. One day he asked his doctor: ''What are we waiting for — 
Lefty?" 

He dwelt on his plans for putting Olema in shape for young creative 
workers. When a friend spoke to him about the need for stimulating writing 
for the people in such volume and with such variety and richness as would 
challenge the monopoly of culture by the men of culture, he said: "Yes, we 
need a thousand Gorkys — a thousand American Gorkys." 

The serum failed. Towards the end he repeated a phrase he remembered 
from a play: "When I walk in the dark I can reach out my hand and touch 
where the corn is green." 

He died on August 14, 1947. 

That night the entire CIO Council of San Francisco stood silent in his 
memory. His chapter of the Newspaper Guild also honored him with silent 
tribute. Letters in verse and prose poured into the People's World, testifying 
to the great loss the working class felt with the passing of this people's artist. 

At a memorial meeting held at the California Labor School Harry Bridges 
read the following statement, which Mike Quin, after hearing that he had 
two months to live, dictated for release after his death: 

XXXVIII 



FAREWELL TO MY UNION BROTHERS 

Olema, California, May 20, 1947 
To my brothers, the Longshoremen and Warehousemen: 

By the time you read this the Old Man will have come to get me. In other 
words, I shall be dead. 

Although I carry no card in either the Longshore or Warehouse Union, 
I want you to know that I have been your brother for a long time. You were 
my pals and my pride, and I felt as much a part of you as if I had worked on 
the docks with a hook in my dungarees instead of being a working-class kid 
who wanted to be a writer. I am telling you this because now that I am dying 
I feel a great desire to have you know that I was your brother. 

I am leaving you on the verge of another great struggle — the first of your 
fights in which I will not be taking part to the best of my ability. Please, 
fellows, always remember that everything you ever gained you gained by 
standing together; by standing shoulder to shoulder under the slogan that 
an injury to one is an injury to all — no matter if a longshoreman's or ware- 
houseman's skin is dark or light, and no matter what his creed. 

"As for the Red Scare, remember that any idea which is any good for the 
working men will come wearing red flannel underwear. Even the mild social 
reforms by which the late President Roosevelt attempted to make some of 
America's great abundance available to ordinary families were decried by the 
money-hogs as the wildest communism. 

You will never hear a shipowner make a speech about unionism that is 
not well larded with red-baiting and anti-communist hysteria. That is because 
nothing is of greater benefit to him or detriment to the nation. The only true 
non-communist union, in his opinion, is the company union. 

Today, as yesterday, the fight of American unions is the fight for bread; 
the fight for wages and conditions from private employers in a crazy economic 
system that is constantly leaping into inflation or plunging into depressions — 
with the so-called normal periods in between being passed as rapidly as tele- 
graph poles by a modern stream-lined locomotive. 

Sooner or later, however, every working man in his right mind knows 
that we, in America, must face the task of changing our economic system to 
accord with the great abundance labor can produce in factories and fields. If 
we don't have sense enough to change it in our time, at least we can be sure 
that our children will regard us as blockheads and tackle the job of changing 
it in their time. 

Thus, even today, the task of defending the right of all Americans to 

XXXIX 



advocate and discuss ^social change is an important responsibility of the unions 
without which they will not be able to endure, because if the money-hogs ever 
succeed in destroying this right we will have fascism and our unions will go 
the way of Germany, Italy and Spain. 

Finally, let me remind you that whenever the going gets tough and 
appeals for solidarity made to top officialdom of other labor bodies are not 
answered or are only answered weakly, you can always carry your appeal 
directly to the rank and file of any union and there you will find the warm- 
hearted and courageous brotherhood that is necessary to any union victory. 

One of my fondest hopes in these last weeks was that I would be able to 
take just one more walk along the Embarcadero — to see the ships on which 
I once sailed, to breathe in the salt air, and to heat the rumbling of the winches. 
I realize now that will not be possible. 

When the next struggle comes, think of me as a kind of skinny guy in 
horn-rimmed glasses whose weapon was the typewriter, who fought with 
you side by side, and is with you in spirit with all his might. 

Sincerely yours, 

Mike Quin 



XL 




Book One 



THE GREAT 
DEPRESSION 



Discoveries 
AND WE ARE MILLIONS 

The Story of Homeless Youth 

Edited version of a pamphlet published by the John Reed Club of Hollywood 

in 1933 

FOREWORD 

The story of the homeless youth of America is more fantastic than any- 
thing in imaginative literature. It is the story of millions of boys born into a 
world privately owned and forced to roam destitute in a land of plenty. It is 
not to be heard as idle entertainment. It is part of the living reality that sur- 
rounds you — the reality that is conditioning your future and the future of your 
children. This is a drama occuring on a mass scale in the flesh and blood of 
life — which ignores the idealistic gropings of literature, and which literature, 
in its individual affectation, egotism, and class nature strives to ignore. It is 
that reality expressing itself and creating its own literature — a new literature — 
the voice of the proletariat. It is the powerful and material force of history 
marching forward, bending and shaping or sweeping aside all institutions and 
ideas that do not conform to it These realities are not a matter of dispute, of 
opinion or what somebody thinks. They are actual, concrete and existent. They 
are not fixed facts that stand and await consideration; they are moving, func- 
tioning, living actuality. They sweep onward relentlessly, affecting all life and 
living. They are the real determining forces of history at work. 

Mike Quin 

Our story by ourselves as told to Michael Quin 

We want to speak for ourselves. We want people to know about us, who 
we are and what we are doing, but no one ever asks us. When people want to 
know about us they ask the people who run the missions, relief worker, gov- 
ernment investigators and the police. But they never ask us. It is as if we 
don't count. The whole world treats us as if we don't count and the only 
interest they ever take in us is when they hear we are a menace. Then they 
treat us like a menace and try to drive us away as enemies. 



We are millions of dirty boys roaming all through the country. It is true 
that thousands of us steal and if we didn't we would starve. Hundreds of us 
catch diseases in dirty jails and flophouses and die. Hundreds of us roll under 
the wheels of freight trains. The only time anything is done for us it is done 
in order to keep us under control and out of the way. It is not done in order 
to help us or to give us a chance to live. But it is time that the people began 
to hear about us and to know what we think because we are millions. It is 
time they found out that their society, to which we are considered a menace, 
is more than a menace to us because it is in the act of ruining us right now. 
Since no one in this world will speak for us, we are going to tell you ourselves. 

Most of us grew in families and our parents were workers. Some of us 
had parents who are dead. Nearly all of us had to leave school before we 
finished our education because our parents or relatives lost their jobs and 
could no longer support us. Some of us graduated from grammar school or 
high school and had to look for work but could find none. Some of us had 
jobs and were working, but when the depression came along we were fired. 
None of this was our fault. When we couldn't find any work in the town we 
were in, we naturally moved on to other towns to see if there was anything 
to do there. We started roaming from town to town all over the country. On 
the road we bumped into all these other boys doing the same thing. 

We find that we are alive in a world in which everything all around us is 
somebody's private property. Everything is owned. And since we don't own 
anything and there is nothing left for us, we have to move on from town to 
town, chased out by the police and only allowed to stay about three days in 
one place. All of us have been in jail a half a dozen times or more for vagrancy, 
vag-sleeping and such charges which don't mean anything because we haven't 
done anything. It's not our fault if no one will hire us. 

In the missions we are allowed to stay three days. In most of these places 
you have to listen to prayer meeting for three hours before you eat. Then they 
march you in to the table and stand you there and pray over you to save your 
soul. Why don't they pray for the souls of the people whose fault it is that we 
have to live this way? After that, they give you a dirty little mess of food a 
dog wouldn't eat. And, like the jails, when you come out you are lousy. 

We do not know who this God is or where he is, but he is not doing us 
any harm and he is not doing us any good. What we want is to be given a 
fair break by our fellow men, and all our fellow men seem to care about is 
their property, and they keep shoving us from town to town because they are 
afraid we want to take something away from them. 

This is what happened to one of our fellows in Yuma. He'd just got into 
town all tired out and hungry. Two other fellows were with him. They were 
all starved. A butcher gave them a big bone and another man gave them a 



little spaghetti and a couple of tomatoes. They went out to the edge of town 
to the "jungle" there and washed themselves up and put on a Mulligan stew 
to cook. Along came two railroad bulls and began to beat them up. They had 
to run and didn't get a thing to eat that day. Sometimes the fellows don't run 
but stay and fight. The cops have guns and lots of homeless youths have been 
killed this way. All by yourself or with only one or two other fellows is not 
the way to fight or try to solve your problems. We've found that out. 

One of our fellows was picked up by a railroad bull just outside Charles- 
ton, South Carolina, and got thirty days on the chain gang. He hadn't done 
anything. It was only that he didn't have any money and didn't have any 
friends and was wandering around looking for work. When he got off the 
chain gang his legs were sore for months afterward from where they'd put 
the chains on. They might just as well have arrested him again ten minutes 
alter he got out because there he was in just the same fix as when they picked 
him up, and they would have just as much reason for arresting him as they 
did before. You can't tell us that a society is sensible when it runs things like 
that. 

Another one of our fellows, when he first arrived in town here, didn't 
have a place to sleep so he and some other fellows climbed into a box car. 
They were arrested and got ten days each for vag-sleeping. After that they 
were afraid of the box cars and decided to walk the streets all night. Some 
nights they would bum a nickel and try to catch a nap in an all night movie. 
Then one night while walking the street they got arrested for vag-roaming 
and got sent up again. After that they didn't know what to do — couldn't sleep 
in a box car and couldn't walk the streets. It was then that they heard about 
the homeless youth organization. Now they know what organization means. 

In Alabama nine homeless youths are facing death in the electric chair. 
Maybe you have read in the papers about the Scottsboro Boys and wonder 
what it is all about. We can tell you. It's about us. We are the Scottsboro Boys, 
every one of us, black and white. In Southern towns we are told to "beat it" 
if we don't want to get "what the Scottsboro Boys got." Not one of them 
is guilty of anything but being destitute, but still the court demands the death 
of these Negro boys as a matter of principle. To them it makes very little 
difference whether our fellow homeless youth are guilty or not. The important 
thing at stake for them is whether or not Negroes shall have equal rights with 
the whites, and workers have equal rights with the owners. 

As far as we are concerned, we do not believe in race discrimination of 
any kind. The blood of homeless youths, white and black, has mixed in the 
same pools on the floors of hundreds of jails, in the streets and in the railroad 
yards. We are blood brothers forever. 

We could go on telling you different stories for hours, but that is not the 



most important thing. The important thing is to show you that we live the 
way we live and do the things we do because we haven't got any choice. 

Most of the different towns have what they call road camps, and they 
try to force you to go into these. Here you work eight hours a day on state 
or city projects and all you get is bum food and a place to lie down and 
sleep at night. If you go into these camps barefoot, you stay barefoot. And 
you can stay in these camps till you die, for all they care. They are not 
trying to help us. When we refuse to go into these camps, which are 
worse than jails, they say that we are lazy and when offered work, refuse 
to take it. 

Reforestation doesn't apply to us, and even if it did, it wouldn't mean 
anything. You can't get in unless you have someone dependent on you, 
and then practically all your pay of thirty dollars a month goes to your 
dependents, so that they can be taken off the regular city or county relief. 
In the end it is no different than the road camps. But in another way it is 
worse. At the reforestation camps you get military training. We are not 
going to march off and kill the homeless youth of some other country. All 
a war would be good for would be to kill us and get us out of the way. 
They talk about us as if we were a lot of wild animals. Whoever it is 
that brings on wars, they are the uncivilized wild animals. Not us. 

Let us tell you, it is not our fault but their fault that we have to live 
like this. They are the guilty people and we know we cannot look to them 
for anything but soup lines, flop houses, lousy jails, forced labor camps 
and military reforestation camps which are the same thing. 

They say in their newspapers that we are a growing menace. They 
aren't thinking about the fact that we are always a menace in good times 
or bad to every man who has a job, because the boss can keep saying to 
him, "You ought to be glad you have any kind of a job at all, let alone 
kicking about low wages and long hours. There are thousands of young men 
who can do the work you are doing as well or maybe better, who would 
be glad to get the work for half what we are paying you." They use the 
homeless youth as scabs in every business and industry. But now we are 
growing too big for them. We have become millions, and they are afraid 
of us as a menace. We are only a menace to the kind of people and the 
kind of society that will make millions of boys live like alley cats and rats. 

We have a lot to worry about. Don't go to the public charity or to 
the police or your church to find out about us — come to us. We'll tell 
you, and we're the ones who can. We have to stand in the soup lines and 
see our fellow homeless youths ruined all around us. Too many of the 
littlest fellows on the road are helpless to look after themselves. They 
get mixed up with the hardened elements among the older men and are 



turned into degenerates. If people would stop listening to other people 
talk about us and would listen to us for a while, maybe they would get 
some sense into their heads and realize what is going on around them. 
We are a whole generation facing ruin at the hands of unscrupulous, selfish 
older people who are running everything. We see it, but you don't. 

Another thing, we see thousands of young. fellows turning into racket- 
eers and criminals, and this kind of human wreckage is just as bad as the 
other. Young guys get cynical after they've been on the road for a while, 
and you can't blame them. We worry about this because we know it isn't 
their fault. Most people only worry about it when one of these young 
guys steps out from in back of a tree and hits them over the head. Then 
they get ahold of the police and try to approach the problem by clubbing 
all homeless youths over the head and end up by making matters worse. 

Nobody is interested in us. There is nowhere for us to look but to our- 
selves. That is why we organized the LEAGUE OF HOMELESS YOUTH. 

Our way is to take over some house, one of these thousands of vacant 
houses. If possible, we try to collect enough money to pay rent. If not, we 
just have to take over some dilapidated house and fix it up. Mostly, the 
people in a working class neighborhood will help us. We fix this house 
up as our home. Usually we have* anywhere from a dozen to a hundred 
fellows to start. We have our own rules and our own committees and our 
own government, which is fair to everybody. There is no discrimination 
because of race, creed or color. We are ail equal. We keep our home 
absolutely clean and no cussing is allowed. 

We are not criminals. The police run in on us almost every day and 
bully us around and try to accuse us of everything wrong that is done. 
If we were criminals we would not want a home and we would not have 
organized the LEAGUE OF HOMELESS YOUTH. The police would 
rather have us roaming like animals, starving and sleeping in box cars and 
being arrested and beaten by them. Their only idea is to get us out of 
town. They'd run us off the earth if they could. 

When we first organized here in Los Angeles, there were a bunch of 
us from the flop houses and soup lines. We got to talking about our con- 
ditions and what we were going to do about them. Finally, about forty 
of us organized and took over an empty house. We were just getting started 
when the police began to interfere. On March 4th they raided us and 
took twenty-four of us to jail. We were in jail eleven days that time. The 
earthquake came while we were there. We hollered and yelled for them 
to let us out, but they wouldn't do it. 

When we got out of jail, a bunch of us went together to the County 
Welfare Office and offered to do work for the city, a certain amount every 

8 



day to pay for our rent in a house. All they told us was to go to the road 
camps. So we went from house to house and explained to people and 
managed to collect rent. But the Bank of America owns this house and is 
trying to put us out. They even went and got part of the house condemned 
so we had to move into the other side. 

We have to buck against the city and all the private interests and dif- 
ferent charity organizations and the cops. They all hate us and they're all 
against us. It's fight, every inch of the way. 

We have read in the newspapers about Hitler in Germany and what 
he is doing, and we know that Hitler is nothing else but a big cop for the 
corporations. His army is just a way of taking part of the working people 
and the unemployed and making them act as cops to keep the rest of the 
people under control and to keep them from organizing. Mussolini, who 
is just like Hitler, only in Italy, says: "I am not afraid of the masses as 
long as they are not organized." And so he keeps this big army of cops 
to keep them from organizing. 

One of our fellows tore a piece out of a newspaper where Hitler says: 
"If you wish to win the sympathy of the broad masses you must tell them 
the crudest and most stupid things. The sword has always decided in the 
end." We cannot help but think that the people who own and run this 
country are trying to do the same thing, because they are always telling 
us such stupid things and saying such stupid things in their newspapers 
and because they try to solve their problems by hiring cops to beat us up. 

If we go wandering around the country alone and unorganized, we 
are licked. If we organize we can do something. Well, we are organizing. 
We are being jailed and beaten anyhow and we would rather go to jail 
for trying to live like decent men and have a chance, than go to jail like 
beaten, discouraged, destitute boys wandering alone. 

We send out our call to everybody to support and help us. We want 
work of any kind, so long as it is decent work and we get fair pay. We 
can use clothes, furniture, soap and any old things you can spare. 

We send out our call to all the wandering, homeless youth of America 
— the unwanted, destitute millions. Organize with us! Don't let them 
exploit you and break your spirit. Don't let them hound you from town 
to town. Don't let them beat you and jail you. Don't let them drive you 
into forced labor camps. Don't let them turn you into cops to terrorize 
your fellow workers. Know your friends and know your enemies. They 
are not your friends. If they were your friends, you would not be sleeping 
in dirty box cars and you would not be hounded by police. Your friends 
are one another. Organize together and organize with us. We can't look 
to them for anything. We have to look to ourselves. And don't become 



racketeers and criminals. That is no solution. When they make you steal, 
they have beaten you. With their selfishness and ignorance they are wreck- 
ing our generation. With our organization we will build together. They 
killed millions of our fathers in the last war. We will not die in their next 
war. If we must fight we will fight for a decent life and a decent world 
and not for private interests. Remember this: If they were not corrupt, if 
we could trust them, we would not be homeless youth. 



LITTLE BOY BLUE 

Little Boy Blue, 

Come home, come home! 

Your worried old parents 

Are starving alone. 

Where is the little boy 

Who took to the road 

In search 0} a job 

To help lighten the load? 

He jell under the wheels 

Of a freight in Merced 

And his frail little body 

Is mangled and dead. 

Go wake him! Go wake him! 

Oh, no. Not I. 

But Yll waken a storm 

That will tremble the sky! 



10 



THE SACRED THING 

'{This story was first printed in Scribner's magazine in August, 1935, and 
reprinted by O'Brien in the "Best Short Stories of 1934/' It carried the signa- 
ture, Paul Ryan.) 

He entered the house shaking his head and smacking his tongue. His 
round little eyes had a look of worried guilt. He hung his cap and his club 
and his uniform coat on the rack in the hall. From the kitchen came his 
wife's voice: "Is it you, Mike?" 

Without troubling to answer, he entered the dining room unbuckling 
his revolver. His wife came in from the kitchen wiping her hands on a dish 
towel. She froze with alarm at his downcast eyes and shaking head. "What is 
it, Mike? Have you lost your job?" 

"No. Oh, a hell of a thing. I haven't got over it yet. A God damn hell 
of a thing. But how was I to know? How the devil was I to know?" He placed 
his revolver on the sideboard and thumped down into a chair. His wife 
relaxed. He hadn't lost his job. Nothing else could be very tragic. Mike began 
gesturing with his hands. "I'm not a man who would do such a thing know- 
ingly, God knows that. But what a hell of a thing to do!" 

He was an enormous man with the greater part of his bulk concentrated 
below the belt. His shoulders sloped away from his neck giving his stature 
the general outlines of an egg. His hands were large, flabby and shapeless. 
His nose turned up and his features were pudgy. His wife loved him because 
he was a policeman and brought home the news first hand. 

"Don't sit there and take on like a fool. What is it you've done, Mike?" 

Mike shrugged sadly. "I was goin' through Lincoln Square stirrin' up 
the bums. You know — I do it every night. There was a bunch on the benches 
near Third Street. I nudged 'em with my club and told 'em to move on." 
Sudden memory roused Mike from his dejection. "One of 'em, a little stoop- 
shouldered rat in a dirty old coat a Chinaman wouldn't wear, started givin* 
me lip, tellin' me about his rights and cussin' under his breath." Mike's voice 
grew strong with anger. "I told him a thing or two about his rights. Call me 
a hired flunkey, will he, I showed him where he stood damn quick. I kicked 
his seat so he won't sit down for a week. They moved on after that, I'll tell 
you." 

"That's right, Mike. Don't take no nonsense from them. You're the law 
and they got to respect you." 

"A fine city this would be with the police takin' their orders from bums!" 

"You're right, Mike. But what happened?" 

11 



Mike sagged instantly into dejection at this reminder. "Well, I circled 
around the whole park. Three more of 'em was settin' under Lincoln's statue." 
He lifted his head and his voice rose again. "I didn't stop to argue with 'em 
this time, I'll tell you. 'See here, officer,' says one of 'em, and I gave him a 
poke. 'Who the hell do you think you're pushin'?' he asked. I kicked him 
right in the seat of his pants. 'I'll show you who I'm pushin'/ I told him. 
They moved off after that all right. If it was me to say, I'd run 'em clear out 
of town, Mary. It's gettin' so there's more bums than decent citizens, and 
God knows where they come from — I don't." 

Mike sagged once more into despair. "I was goin* back toward Third 
Street again when I sees one sittin' on the bench up ahead under a tree where 
it, was real dark. I figured it was one o' those bums tryin to slip back again 
thinkin' I wouldn't see him. That's what I thought, Mary, so I walked up quick 
and give him one with my club and kicked him." 

"Well, what about it? What did he do?" 

"That's the terrible thing, Mary. He didn't do anything. He fell over 
on his face into the road. It was a dead man." 

"Oh!" Mary pursed her lips and closed her eyes. 

"You understand, Mary, I didn't know. I had no way of knowing. There 
he was on the bench, and all. I wouldn't have kicked the body of a man 
who was in God's own presence — who had been called to judgment by our 
Lord. You know that, Mary. But I didn't know." He held his hands out to 
her as if for forgiveness. 

"No, Michael, you didn't mean it. It was only that you didn't know." 

"He was a Catholic too," said Mike bitterly. "At the morgue they found 
medals around his neck. They say he starved to death." 

Mary put one big freckled arm around his neck and took his great fist in 
her fat hand. Tears shone brightly in her tiny, pale blue eyes. "God's will is 
God's will," she said gently, "and it's not for us to understand his wisdom. 
But He knows and He forgives." 



12 



GRADUATION GREETINGS 

They've ground it into your thinking 
And hammered it into your bones,, 
That the good rise up like bubbles 
And the evil sink like stones. 

They've drilled you with guns on the campus. 
And taught you the arts of, gore; 
You're an A-l competent killer 
In line for the coming war. 

They gave you a fancy diploma,, 
With a speech by a wealthy snob; 
You're a certified, guaranteed moron. 
Let's hope you can findl a job. 

Come into the world so perfect, 
Rave a look at the hungry men. 
Have a look at the lives of workers 
And study your lessons again. 

The stools of the clerks are many; 
The mahogany desks are few. 
The breadlines stretch for many a block; 
There's room at the end for you. 



13 



MEXICAN HANDS 



(From Partisan, organ of John Reed Club of Hollywood, 1933) 

Julio Herrera lost his job. The crisis was on; the company had to cut 
down expenses, so they fired Julio. America had too much food, too many 
factories, too many automobiles, too many farms — too much of everything. 
The newspapers said this was why the people were all so poor. Julio couldn't 
understand it. Production had to be cut down. Cotton must be plowed under, 
wheat must be burned, fruit must rot and vegetables must be dumped in the 
ocean. America was too wealthy. The people whose work had created all 
this wealth stood shivering in long breadlines or went hungry in the streets 
while the warehouses bulged all around them. Julio was puzzled. 

€t I am not an educated man," he would say. "There were no schools where 
I was born. But I have always tried to open up the darkness — I have always 
tried to understand." Once while coming home from work he had seen a 
man standing on the back "of an automobile in an empty lot talking to a 
crowd of men gathered around him. Julio walked over and listened. The 
man was talking about jobs and wages, and bosses and workers. It was not 
like the newspapers. Julio could understand everything the man said. He 
drank in every word, but before he could learn much, two policemen should- 
ered their way through the crowd and* arrested the man. This incident never 
left Julio's mind. 

Julio looked everywhere for work, but there were no jobs to be had. His 
savings were soon used up and he had to apply to the county relief offices 
for help. They put him to work a few days every month on a road gang, but 
it was hard for Maria to manage with the two children on his small earnings. 
It seemed to Julio that everything he had built up in fifteen years in the U. S. 
was melting away in a day. The shack and the small lot he had been buying 
on instalments were confiscated for the taxes. He had to move his family into 
a basement room. Then the man came and took away the radio. Julio was 
home that afternoon reading the paper. The room was filled with music. It 
seemed to hold back despair like a fire holds back the darkness. It drowned 
out the sadness in his heart and kept him from brooding. He argued for a 
long while and pleaded, but the man was impatient. He must have the instal- 
ment or the radio. When he had gone, the room was silent and unfriendly. 
The disconnected ground wire straggled forlornly from under the table. 
Hopelessness reigned with the silence. Sadness drained the strength from 
his arms and legs and left him too weak to think. Then a little spark of 
anger glowed in him and began to increase. It was like a cigarette butt thrown 

14 



into a dry wheat field. He felt the strength pouring back into him and he 
began to think. He began to think about the man on the back of the auto- 
mobile and the police who had arrested him. 

The next day the relief office turned him away. They said there would be 
no more work, but if he wanted to return to Mexico, they would pay his 
way on the train. This was what Julio feared most. He knew of the trainloads 
of workers who were being sent back to Mexico and he knew what conditions 
faced them there. He knew that all of the industries in Mexico were owned 
by Americans and Englishmen and that there were no jobs. He knew that 
this meant slow starvation in an adobe hut or, at best, slavery to the foreign 
interests. He talked it over with Maria and they decided to hold out as long 
as possible. Maria did not smile any more and little Juanita had developed 
a cold that hung on. Two days later the companies turned off the electricity 
and gas. That day there was nothing to eat. It was cold in the basement and 
at night the children cried. Maria could stand it no longer. 

"Better to do as they say," she said, "than to stay here and starve. In 
Mexico, at least, it will not be cold and Juanita may stop coughing/* 

Julio did not say anything. He put, on his hat and banged the door as he 
went out. For many hours he walked the streets trying to think, but an over- 
whelming bitterness filled him and blocked his thoughts. He felt numb, 
frozen with hatred, helpless. He went to the relief office and signed the 
deportation papers. 

As he walked home, every detail of the streets caught his attention. This 
neighborhood, so long familiar to him, suddenly stood out sharp, clear and 
detached. He knew that he would wake up one morning soon in the glaring 
sunlight of Mexico and all this would be as distant as a dream. His house 
would be an adobe hut, his floor the earth and he would beg work from an 
American in what they called "his own country." 

Laden with rope-bound bundles and cheap pasteboard suitcases, they 
joined the long procession of the deported moving toward the railroad sta- 
tion. Maria had fallen a few steps behind, delayed by the short steps of 
the children. Julio was just in front of them, staring straight and hard, his 
teeth clenched, the fire of anger burning strongly within him. His whole life 
in America repeated itself in many pictures in his mind. It filled him like a 
madness which he could neither control nor drive out.. All night long he 
had lain awake and lived over his past. The departure from the little town 
in Mexico. The "contradista" who had promised him great things across 
the border. America needed Mexicans. Come to America. There were jobs 
for all. America had work she wanted done. He remembered the long days 
in the fields, the darkness of the mines, the hot work on the roads. Always 
"manana" things would be better. He met Maria in the grape harvest in the 

15 



San Joaquin Valley. He had got very drunk that night and she pretended to 
be angry. He remembered the long rides in the Ford in the moonlight. They 
were not married until the cantaloupes were ripe in Imperial Valley. Those 
were hard days, but happy. "Manana" things would be better. Juanita was 
born during the cotton picking in Arizona. They followed the crops those 
days. When Francisco was born, they began buying the house and settled down 
in one place. Signing the papers and receiving the deed was a big moment 
They gave a party that night and he got drunk again. There was the day 
Juanita started in at the Brooklyn Avenue School and their pride in her first 
report card. JuHo looked around him. This was his country! His children 
had been born here. His strength had gone into those buildings. Here he 
had lived and worked. Now they had robbed him and were driving him away. 

They were nearing the station. The long line of fourteen hundred workers 
moved slowly like a funeral procession. There was no smile on any face. 
Here and there guitars and other musical instruments showed among the 
luggage of the poor. But there was no music and no one laughed. The steady 
tread of feet was broken only by the hacking coughs of the tubercular who 
were going home to die. Men walked with their eyes bright with intense 
thinking. Little children clung to the skirts of their mothers or held to the 
hands of their fathers, frightened by the strangeness and solemnity of their 
elders. The look in every eye, the movement of every hand, the sound of 
every voice expressed labor and sorrow. Mutilated hands. Hands, gnarled, 
calloused, work worn. Stooped shoulders as if still bending under the weight 
of long labor. There were traces of a long misery on all of them. Some could 
hardly walk and others were carried on stretchers. They had done their work. 
These were the men who had developed the great Southwest. These were 
the hands that picked the crops, that shovelled the dirt, that dug the mines, 
that made the wealth for other men to claim. 

At the station there were friends and relatives to bid farewell. For every 
angry man sent back, two angry friends remained behind. Suitcases and bags 
were dropped and the children *at on them silently. A deep murmur of seri- 
ous conversation filled the room. The immigration officials strutted around 
importantly, their hands filled with papers, their faces masks of self-righteous 
efficiency. Big-bosomed charity women floundered about, pressing packages 
of food into work-worn hands. They smiled in gracious self-satisfaction — 
generosity, justice, kindness; "We and our institution." Their fat £aces per- 
formed imbecilic convulsions in efforts to beam gentleness. They were hand- 
ing, out the wages of the poor. A. banana for a life's labor. Two sandwiches 
for building a bridge. An orange for an arm torn off in a threshing machine. 
A cookie for years in the mines. A bag of beans for years in the fields. People 
starved out, forced out, dumped back into Mexico to starve again — people 

16 



staring into grim hopelessness, handed crumbs by beaming charity women. 

Julio was standing on the edge of a group, listening to the men talk. "We 
are going back to Mexico," said Diego. "But it will only be a change of 
climate for our hunger. Can't you see the helplessness in all these eyes?" 

"We are not helpless," said Garcia. He held up his hands. "The train 
rolls on the tracks we laid with these hands. We'll go through fields and 
valleys that once were deserts and the melons, berries and tomatoes grew 
with our drops of sweat. We will see the thread of miles of highways that 
we built for the pride of California. We will take our last look at the build- 
ings and bridges that half our lives went into the construction of. They kick 
us out like hungry, dirty dogs, but we will remember this country. Our torn 
lungs will still feel the vibrations of the air drills." 

"Do you think," asked Jose, "that when the factories open again and the 
people are buying goods, they will want us back again?" 

"No!" answered Garcia. "When the factories open again, it is the work- 
ers who will open them. It is not the workers who are thowing us out. It is 
the husbands of these fat women with their apples." They all laughed. Julio 
looked at the fat women more closely. "These are the men," continued Garcia, 
"who own all the factories and all the fields. These are the men who stole our 
labor and are throwing us out. Not the workers. The workers will organize 
and take all these things into their own hands and they will run them to make 
the things that people need and grow the food for people to eat — not to make 
a few men rich." 

"I heard a man talk like that," said Julio. He told the story of the man 
in the empty lot. "Now I know why the police arrested him. He said that all 
the land and all the factories must belong to the workers." 

"Do you believe that?" asked Jose. 

"Yes," said Julio, deciding on the spot. "Yes. Certainly. How could it 
be otherwise. If not, then it would always be like this." 

The men patted him on the back. Julio's helplessness had left him. He 
no longer felt alone. 

"They pay the wages. They own the land," said Garcia. "They own all 
the buildings. It is the same in Mexico and the same in the United States. 
What is good for the workers is bad for them. What is good for them is bad • 
for the workers. It will go on until the workers win." 

Julio's mind was afire. He made a gathering motion with both hands. 
"All the workers," he said, "all together. The American workers and the 
Mexican workers. We are all the same. We all work for the same boss." 

"Are you a Communist?" asked Jose. 

"I don't know," said Julio. "I don't know what I am." He paused. "But 
I know that I am a worker and I am ready whenever the workers are ready." 

17 



INVESTIGATION 



We know the investigation men 
Who call and never come back again. 
It must be holy; it must be nice 
To enter homes and count the lice. 

They are so kind in considerations, 
They've made so many investigations. 
They look at the stove and the sagging beds, 
And count the children, and shake their heads, 

Where were we born? How much do we weigh? 
Where do we work? How much does it pay? 
They write it down on a paper sheet 
Their writing is so clean and neat. 

I am told they file it in fireproof files 
In buildings of glistening, colored tiles. 
And our empty stomachs and broken hearts 
Are traced on new statistical charts. 

Ah, the men with dollars, so many times, 
Have peeped in our dreary world of dimes, 
And I hear that people in brand new clothes 
Meet in the cities to speak of our woes. 

And one of them said that my child was weak, 
That its twisted bones and its pale white cheek, 
Could be cured with food and warmth and sun, 
And that something drastic must be done. 

That our social system had gone amiss, 
And things could never go on like this. 
And I know it is true, what the gentleman said, 
For he never came back — and my child is dead. 



18 



THREE PER CENT 
OWN ALL THE WEALTH 

(Western Worker, 1935) 

Keep off the grass 

And out of the fields, 

And don't trespass. 

Keep out of the buildings 

And off the lawns; 

You're the working class. 

America is the space between the cracks 

In the pavement, 

And the space between the rail ties, 

And the rest of it is fenced and owned 

By the top hat guys. 

You can sit on a park bench, 

If not too long, 

But keep off the lawns 

You don't belong. 

You don't own a damned thing 

But muscle and brain; 

You're a man without property 

Out in the rain. 

In those warm mansions, 

Three percent 

Own all the land, 

Reap all the rent. 

They've got it all 

And want still more, 

Step up, America, 

And knock on the door. 

Tell them that democracy 

Is about to begin; 

That the joke is over 

And you're moving in. 



19 



Struggle 

SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL STRIKE 

1934 

The story of the 1934 Maritime and General Strikes taken from various 
columns written for the Western Worker and the People's World, 
and the manuscript of his book ( . ( General Strike;' 

Pacific Coast shipowners remember September, 1919, like a broken down 
nag might remember the day it won the Derby. In that month of that year 
they moved in and smashed the maritime unions. When I say smashed, I 
mean smashed. 

Old Robert Dollar said the way to break the unions was to send ambu- 
lance loads of pickets to the hospital. They did. It was just after the World 
War and they harnessed all the resultant hysteria and the newly invented 
Red scare to their strike-breaking chariot. 

The period between 1919 and 1934 is still referred to by shipowners as 
an era of peace and harmony. The unions were lying on their faces. Long- 
shore work was reduced to casual labor, and longshoremen were reduced 
to poverty and regarded as a species of semi-underworld bums. Jobs were 
thrown to them like garbage to the seagulls. The shape-up and petty graft 
ruled supreme. As for the seamen, if any young man took up that profession 
he was said to have "gone to the dogs." 

The longshoremen were herded into a "Blue Book" company union and 
an effective blacklist prevented them from forming a real organization. 
Although traditional advocates of the open shop, the shipowners were happy 
to favor their own company-controlled union with a complete closed shop 
contract. 

The seafaring unions were largely paper organizations presided over — 
or rather slumbered over — by William Green's little boy Paul Scharrenberg. 
A few seamen belonged to Scharrenberg's International Seamen's Union; 
another minority belonged to the Marine Workers' Industrial Union. Most of 
them belonged to no union at all. 

The Marine Workers' Industrial Union was a pioneer in the industrial 
union field; a new organization striving hard to organize the seamen. 

Late in 1932 a good many longshoremen banded together and decided 

20 



to organize. It was slow work at first on account of the blacklist. They had 
to go about it on the Q-T. They put out a little mimeograph paper called 
the Waterfront Worker and began agitating for a sensible state of affairs. 

Similar groups got to work in other Pacific ports. By the middle of 1933 
an initiative committee was set up and began signing members into the Inter- 
national Logshoremen's Association. 

In September, 1933, four men were refused work on the Matson docks 
in San Francisco because it was known they had joined the union. A brief 
strike brought the matter to a head and the case was appealed to the Regional 
Labor Board as a violation of Section 7 (a) of the National Recovery Act. 
The board ordered their reinstatement and the deadlock was broken. Long- 
shoremen signed up in the ILA by the thousands. 

A rank and file convention of delegates from all the Pacific ports was 
held in San Francisco. Minimum demands were drawn up and presented to 
the employers, who called the men "Bolsheviks" and refused to deal with 
them. Longshoremen in all ports voted by a 99 percent majority to strike. 

The employers changed their minds and decided to negotiate. But what 
negotiations. They extended over months and months. Meanwhile, a strike 
deadline had been set for March 23. The men were all set' to walk out on 
that day, when a telegram arrived from President Roosevelt appealing for 
mediation. William J. Lewis, then president of the ILA, received the tele- 
gram and called off the strike without consulting anyone. 

Followed more negotiations, plus hearings, plus discussions, plus dgaf 
smoke. Nothing was accomplished. Another strike date was set for May, lf)34. 
It Was difficult to tell in those d^fys who was most afraid of a strike, the 
employers or the top American Federation of Labor officials. Fortunately the 
rank and file had elected its own strike committee right off the docks, includ- 
ing Harry Bridges. 

On May 9 the boys walked out — all the boys in all the ports — and the 
maritime industry shut down as if somebody had turned off a faucet. 

First problem was what to do about the seamen. They had as many griev- 
ances as the longshoremen but were practically unorganized. Paul Scharren- 
berg was still loafing in the International Seamen's Union office chewing the 
ends off cigars given to him by admiring employers. The longshoremen were 
parading in a giant picket line of 1000 men up and down the Embarcadero 
and the seamen were not in it. 

About this time the Marine Workers' Industrial Union began going 
aboard the ships and pulling off the crews. They were organizing the seamen 
so fast that Scharrenberg and other International Seamen's Union officials 
began to recognize that if they didn't take some action the Marine Workers' 
Industrial Union would freeze them out Unable to stall any longer, the Inter- 

21 



national Seamen's Union began calling strikes. Soon the seamen were a part 
of the walkout with their own demands and their own representatives on the 
strike committee. It was now a full maritime strike. 

(After the strike was won, the Marine Workers Industrial Union dis- 
banded and its members were absorbed into the revitalized International 
Seamen's Union.) 

Joe Ryan, international head of the International Longshoremen's Asso- 
ciation, flew out from New York and settled the whole strike in about 24 
hours by selling it out. The men wouldn't go for it. They repudiated Ryan 
and demanded rank and file approval of any settlement. Ryan had never 
heard of such a thing and called them "Communists." 

Shipowners were yelling "Communist" and "Revolution" so Ryan just 
joined their chorus. He wore out several fountain pens signing sell-out 
agreements, all of which were repudiated. He winged all over the Coast 
trying to split one port from another, and failed. Eventually the men booed 
him off the coast. He returned to New York and issued statements that the 
strikers were Reds. 

At first employers argued they could not negotiate on a coastwise basis, 
and that settlement would have to be port by port and company by company. 
Later they decided they could negotiate on a coastwise basis but that it was 
a longshore strike and nothing else. They offered to grant the longshore- 
men concessions if they would return to work and desert the seamen. The 
longshoremen refused. All unions were striking together and all would stay 
out until all received consideration. 

Shipowners battered away with violence, publicity, and every weapon they 
knew, but still the longshoremen refused to sell out the seamen. As a matter 
of policy around that time all newspapers referred to the "longshore strike" 
and refused to recognize the demands of the seamen. 

Finally came the major offensive to "open the port" — one of the most 
violent assaults by police ever launched against organized labor — Bloody 
Thursday (July 5, 1934) in which scores were wounded and two men, Nich- 
olas Bordois and Howard Sperry, were shot dead with bullets in their backs. 

In the midst of the tense situation which prevailed between July 5th 
{Bloody Thursday) and the General Strike, the Knights Templar arrived 
in towns by the hundreds for their convention. They strolled the streets in 
their extraordinary regalia, white plumed hats and shining swords, consti- 
tuting an embarrassment to civic officials. Conservative mid-western business- 
men dressed like 18th century generals, come to enact their fraternal pagean- 
try amidst chaos. 

"They marched with plumes shining and swords flashing in the sun 
of a summer's day," newspapers reported. "Marching with bared heads to 

22 



the music of the processional, 'Onward Christian Soldiers'." 

And when the convention opened the reverend chaplain told them: 

"The world is suffering from a moral slump which is far more important 
than any material decline. . . ." 

That night, a thirty-year old working woman sat dazed in a cheap apart- 
ment house on Fifth Street. Her eyes were red and swollen from tears. She 
was not crying now. She- stared straight ahead of her, apparently unmindful 
of visiting friends, neighbors, and newspaper reporters. 

This was Julia, wife of Nick Bordois. They had been married six years. 
Nick was a native of Crete, a culinary worker; member of the Cooks Union 
and the Communist Party. 

Ever since their marriage they had lived obscurely in their small apart- 
ment. Nick was a hard and steady worker and found employment in some 
of the biggest restaurants in town. Recently he had undergone an operation 
for appendicitis, and he was convalescing when the maritime strike broke out. 

Nick's father had been a working man. His family as far back as he knew 
were laborers. Loyalty to the struggles of labor was the familiar philosophy 
He heard the call for solidarity and help and he got up off his sick bed to 
work in the strikers' relief kitchen. He sweated cheerfully preparing meals 
of his home life, as natural and binding to him as loyalty to home and family, 
for hungry pickets. There was nothing spectacular or grandiose about his con- 
tribution. Unionism was his creed, his belief, the dominating principle that 
guided his life. 

( Three days ago, he had departed as usual to do his daily bit in the relief 
kitchen. That was "Bloody Thursday." That night his wife read that Nick 
was lying under a sheet in the morgue with a police bullet in his back. 

His body was now lying in state in the headquarters of the International 
Longshoremen's Association. In another coffin beside him lay Howard Speny, 
longshoreman, the second victim of the "opening of the port." 

All Sunday long and far into the night, crowds swarmed in the street 
outside the hall, waiting in long silent lines to pay tribute to the dead. They 
filed slowly in endless procession past the two coffins. Thousands upon thou- 
sands, hour after hour, they passed in silent respect. Young and old, men and 
women, husky workingmen in dungarees, pale clerks in blue serge, pretty 
young girls with serious faces, high school boys in corduroys, white bearded 
old men, little children clinging tightly to their parents as they gazed at the 
still white faces in the coffins. Some bent on one knee and made the sign of 
the cross. Others stood erect and raised one fist in the Communist salute. 
Many left small bunches of flowers gathered from home gardens and window 
boxes. The air was heavy with the scent of hundreds of flower wreaths from 
unions and other organizations. 

23 



Sperry was a World War veteran. Sentries stood guard beside the coffins 
and outside the door. One of them wore the uniform of the Veterans of 
Foreign Wars. 

A delegation of longshoremen called upon Chief of Police Quinn to 
obtain permission for a funeral parade on Monday. They demanded that all 
police be withdrawn from around the ILA hall, where the services were to 
be held, and from the entire length of Market Street, the line of march. 

"You k:cp the cops away/' they said, "and we'll be responsible for main- 
taining order and directing traffic." 

The request was granted. . . . 

Early on the morning of July 9th, a Living sea of people filled Steuart 
Street outside ILA headquarters and formed into the line of maich. Approxi- 
mately ^0,000 men, women and children of every conceivable trade and pro- 
fession stood silently with hats off in the hot sun. The services were simple and 
stark. An ILA spokesman began: 

"We are here to pay the respects of union labor to you, Howard Sperry, 
and you, Nicholas Bordois — to bid you farewell." 

The harsh clanging of a bell cut into his words.- He paused a moment 
while everyone listened. It was the ironic clanging of a near-by Belt Line 
locomotive shunting boxcars with the aid of a scab crew. 

The longshoreman continued in a tense voice. He spoke of the supreme 
sacrifice of the fallen men, the challenge of the Industrial Association* and 
pledged over the two coffins that the fight would continue until victory. 

The coffins were carried down the narrow stairway and placed on trucks. 
Three additional trucks followed bearing the floral offerings. A union band 
struck up the slow cadence of Beethoven's funeral march. Slowly, barely 
creeping, the trucks moved out into Market Street. Faces were hard and 
serious. Hats were held tightly across chests. 

Streetcarmen stopped their cars along the line of march and stood silently, 
holding their caps across their chests. 

Not one smile in the endless blocks of marching men. Crowds on the side- 
walk, for the most part, stood with heads erect and hats removed. Others 
watched with fear and alarm. Here and there well-dressed businessmen from 
Montgomery Street stood amazed, but with their hats still on their heads. 
Sharp voices cried out from the line of march: "Take off your hats!" With 
quick, nervous gestures the businessmen obeyed. 

The whole length of Market Street, from the Ferry Building to Valencia 
Street, was filled with mourners. Not a policeman was in sight. Longshore- 
men wearing blue armbands directed traffic. No police badge or whistle ever 
received such instant respect and obedience as the calm, authoritative voices 
of the dock workers. Labor was burying its own. ... 

24 



THESE ARE THE CLASS WAR DEAD 

Stop in your tracks, you passerby, 
Uncover your doubting head; 
The workingmen are on their way 
To bury their murdered dead. 

The men who sowed their strength in work 
And reaped a crop of lies 
Are marching by. Oppression's doom 
Is written in their eyes. 

Two coffins lead the grim parade 
That stops you in your tracks; 
Two workers lying stiff and dead 
With bullets in their backs. 

The blood they left upon the street 
Was workers' blood and red: 
They died to make a better world, 
These are the class war dead! 

Stand back, you greedy parasites, 
With banks and bellies filled, 
And tremble while the working class 
Buries the men you killed. 

This is our word to those who jell, 
Shot down for bosses' gains 
We 'swear to fight until ive win, 
YOU DID NOT DIE IN VAIN! 

Of this grim parade, the report of the Industrial Association stated: 

"It was one of the strangest and most dramatic spectacles that had ever 

moved along Market Street. Its passage marked the high tide of united labor 

action in San Francisco. . . . 

"As the last marcher broke ranks, the certainty of a general strike, which 

up to this time had appeared to many to be a visionary dream of a small 

group of the most radical workers, became for the first time a practical and 

realizable objective." 

25 



The maritime pickets had been driven from the Embarcadero by force. 
The Industrial Association had assumed the role of government and for three 
days a slipshod dribble of commerce was carried on with the aid of scabs. 
For three days the city had been smouldering in anger. Now it was going 
to act. That was the message everyone read in the silent ranks of marching 
men. . . 

San Francisco, in July, 1934, underwent an experience unprecedented in 
the history of the nation. General strikes on a small or partial scale had 
occurred before. In Seattle, just after the (first) World War, a general strike 
of considerable proportions took place. But none of these were by any means 
on a scale with what happened in San Francisco. Here the entire laboring 
population, with almost perfect accord, laid down their tools and brought 
the whole industrial apparatus to a standstill. 

To all practical purposes not a wheel moved nor a lever budged. An 
uncanny quiet settled over the acres of buildings. The din of commercial 
activity gave way to a murmur of voices in the streets. 

Highways leading out of the city bore a continual stream of expensive 
cars carrying well-to-do "refugees" to distant sanctuaries. They were fleeing 
(so they said) from bombs and rioting mobs. 

There were no bombs. 

There were no rioting mobs. 

These existed only in the pages of the daily press, which characterized 
the event as a Bolshevik revolution and conjured up visions of tempestuous 
throngs sweeping torch in hand through the city streets. 

True, the city during preceding days had been shaken by violent indus- 
trial warfare. Major battles had been fought in the city streets and many 
men had gone down before police gunfire. A general maritime strike had 
paralyzed all shipping up and down the. Pacific Coast for more than two 
months, and the merchant fleet was tied up in the harbors like so many dead 
whales. The town was bristling with bayonets and the hospitals were jammed 
with wounded. Clouds of tear and nausea gas had swept through business 
districts, penetrating windows and driving panic-stricken throngs from the 
buildings. Pedestrians, running for streetcars, had been winged by stray bul- 
lets and had crumpled to the pavement. The sounds of shouting, running 
crowds, pistol shots, screams, breaking glass, and wailing sirens had filled 
the air. 

All these things had happened before the General Strike, and after the 
General Strike still more violence was to come in the form of vigilante and 
police raids on union halls and the offices of the Western Worker. 

It is not surprising if certain sections of the populace expected that 'almost 

26 



anything might happen. In general, however, people knew better. The Gen- 
eral Strike was disciplined and orderly. The streets were orderly and unalarm- 
ing. Children and adults swayed up and down Market Street on roller skates. 
Automobiles were still abroad even though gasoline stations were closed. 
Workingmen were out in their holiday clothes with celluloid buttons glisten- 
ing in every coat lapel. 

Along the waterfront and in front of the National Guard armory, self- 
conscious looking schoolboys wearing steel helmets and ill-fitting khaki 
uniforms paced up and down nervously fingering heavy automatic rifles. 

Here and there a truck was tipped over and its merchandise scattered 
over the streets when business houses sought to move their goods with scab 
drivers. But these incidents were too few to make any impression on the 
populace as a whole. 

Saloons and liquor stores were closed "By Order of the General Strike 
Committee." 

Hastily scribbled signs and placards in the windows of small shops and 
restaurants read: "Closed 'till the boys win," or "We're with you, fellows. 
Stick it out," or "Closed 'till the longshoremen get their hiring hall." 

Only two veins of industrial and commercial apparatus remained function- 
ing. Business executives kept the wires burning like inflamed nerves with 
negotiations and anxieties. Newspapers supplied hysteria. Sceptical pedes- 
trians bought copies of papers whose headlines exceeded those announcing 
the Armistice, declaring that the city was in the control of Communists who 
threatened bloodshed and ruin. 

Few people manifested any alarm. They simply knew it wasn't true. The 
violence came not from Communists "seizing San Francisco as a colonial 
possession" on behalf of Moscow, but from the gangs of "vigilantes" who 
a few days later roamed the city raiding halls and homes where Communists 
were supposed to gather, cracking skulls and wrecking furnishings, books, 
pianos . . . and from the police, who crowded over 450 persons into a jail 
built to accommodate a third that many. . . . 

Employers will never recover from the terror of that walkout. It was 
peaceful, disciplined, orderly, but represented a power beyond anything they 
could command. 

The shipowners quickly changed their minds and decided to recognize 
the demands of the seamen. The general strike was sold out from within by 
Edward Vandeleur and his lieutenants, but it had its effect nevertheless. It 
won its objective. The longshoremen got their hiring hall and other demands. 
The seamen made gains — not everything they should have won, but vast 
improvements. 

From an impoverished and semi-despised state, the maritime workers 

27 



raised themselves to one of the most highly respected sections of the popu- 
lation. It took one of the greatest strikes in American history to achieve this. 
It has taken several major disputes since to maintain it. It may take many 
more to complete the picture. 

Men have died by the thousands throughout history for causes they 
believed in. But few men have ever died for a cause so well rewarded as 
that of Sperry and Bordois. Their dead bodies borne at the head of a procession 
of 40,000 men and women led the maritime workers out of an abyss of pov- 
erty and degradation. Their death inspired a demonstration that enabled 
labor to discover its own strength. 



// 



THEY SHALL NOT DIE 



(Written in November, 1934, on receipt of news that two of the nine 
innocent Scottsboro Boys were condemned to be electrocuted, in Alabama, on 
a typical "rape" frame-up. Mass protest saved their lives, and after a grim and 
persistent struggle throughout the country all nine were freed. The Scottsboro 
Case became known throughout the world for the impetus it gave to a new 
phase of militant struggle for Negro rights.) 

If the world martyred Negroes rose 
From long-forgotten graves; 
If the dark soil burst and issued forth 
Its hoard of murdered slaves; 

If they marched their broken bodies past 
In ghastly black parade 
Before the men who struck them down 
That fortunes might be made; 

The sea of lash- torn human Negro flesh, 
Rope-strangled throats, gouged eyes, 
Charred bodies, bullet-ridden forms 
Would shock the very skies. 

But still the lords of greed and gain 
Would view it all with pride, 
Would count each corpse like misers 9 gold 
And not be satisfied. 

28 



Too long the trees of Southern hate 
Such bloody fruit have borne 
As Negroes strangled on bosses' ropes 
For parasites to scorn. 

Too oft through balmy Southern air 
The awful, sickening smell 
Of burning human flesh 
Floats like the breath of Hell. 

And now the brutal master class 
Puts by its rope and fire, 
And turns upon the working class 
With copper chairs and wire. 

The power plant is humming death 
While two boys wait, in cells 
To take the volts into their bones 
Unless mass protest tells. 

What for? Who reaps the gain of this? 
Whose pockets bulge? Whose hand 
Sets fire to men, pulk lynching ropes 
And rules this wretched, land? 

Who profits by the death of men, 
By keeping men in chains? 
Whose hand is sowing human skulls 
Upon the earth like grains? 

That hand is white, but not our hand. 
White workers will not kill 
Their fellow workers, black or brown, 
To do a master's will. 

Our martyrs lie with your brave dead 
In deep graves side by side 
White workers, black and while, above 
Are joining hands with pride. 



29 



Here is the challenge bosses fling 
At black and white alike: 
"December Seventh is the day 
The hand of death shall sttike." 

We joined our hands. We "made a pledge, 
This was our battle cry: 
We swore before our martyred dead 
THOSE NINE BOYS SHALL NOT DIE! 

Let every voice, let every fist 

Rise up, for we have willed 

To stay the murdering hand of greed, 

OUR SONS SHALL NOT BE KILLED! 







FAREWELL TO MOTHER MOONEY 



(Erom the Daily Worker, September, 1934) 

They would not let her body into prison. We carried the coffin to the gates 
of San Quentin, but twenty armed guards blocked the path. Tom was watching 
from the window of the officers' mess where he was at work peeling potatoes. 
He saw the flower strewn coffin in the distance. In it was his mother. She had 
visited him less than a week before. They talked, embraced, then she returned 
home and died. She was to have appeared in the Labor Day parade on the 
following morning. 

The appeal to allow Tom to attend the funeral was refused. This would 
have been her last visit. The tired body of a working-class mother who had 
entered these iron gates so often in life, was barred in death. 

The funeral procession circled the prison and tried another gate. In panic 
the guards rushed to the new point of attack. Perspiration poured down their 
faces. A strange franticness dominated their actions. They were afraid of this 
small dead body — afraid of the flower-strewn coffin. The newsreel men and 
photographers were busy on the nearby hillside. The guards charged up the 
hill and scattered them in all directions. There must be no pictures of the coffin 
at the iron gate. 

The procession returned through Marin County to Sausalito and across the 

30 



ferry to San Francisco. For hours the workers had been massing at the Embarca- 
dero. The famous battleground of the marine strike was again thronged with 
people. They were seriously forming themselves in columns for the march. 
Everywhere, workers were helping each other pin black bands bearing the 
words FREE TOM MOONEY on their arms. Late-comers were scurrying up 
and down in search of places. Young Communists in blue uniforms with sam 
brown belts and the red insignia of the hammer and sickle on their shirts were 
straightening out the ranks. Tough faced cops cruising up and down on their 
motorcycles eyed them with apprehension as a new authority which had usurped 
their posts. These were the same youths whom they had clubbed and shot down 
during the youth day demonstration on the waterfront during the strike. 

The notes of a band were heard above the clanging of trolleys and the roar 
of traffic. There was a quick, final, scurrying and the columns straightened out 
solid and unbroken. From the Ferry building marched the band followed by 
the hearse and the cortege. Heads were uncovered all over the waterfront. 
Slowly the band circled the Embarcadero and led the way up Market Street. 

The long columns of workers began to move. Market Street felt the tread 
of marching workers for the fourth time in six months. There was the angry 
march of 8000 marine workers tramping to Civic Center to shout their defiance 
of police terror against the granite wails of the bosses administrative palaces. 
There was the grim march of 40,000 behind the coffins of the workers mur- 
dered on Bloody Thursday, Sperry and Bordois (a Communist). There was the 
dressed up and betasseled Labor Day march of 40,000, when the bosses' hench- 
men led the mighty strength of San Francisco labor up Market Street like a 
giant in paper chains and the betrayers of the General Strike mouthed eulogies 
of class collaboration from a flag-draped platform to an unconvinced and 
restless sea of workers. 

Now labor marched behind the coffin of an 86 year old working-class 
mother. Gaunt workers from the breadlines trudged side by side with employed 
workers in their pressed Sunday best. Young boys and girls who were not born 
when Mooney was first imprisoned, marched with serious faces. This was no 
sentimental march of superstitious mourners. They marched behind a symbol of 
the bondage of their class — a symbol of their own struggle. The dead woman 
in the coffin that led them was not smiling. Her jaw was set firmly in determina- 
tion. Her face was lined with the marks of a long struggle. 

She was born in the County of Mayo in Ireland and came to America 60 
years ago. She came with the legions of workers that were brought from Europe 
to shoulder the picks, swing the axes, guide the plows and build America. In 
Holyoke, Massachusetts, she met and married Brian Mooney, a miner. He was 
a leader in the struggle of his class and one of the first members of the Knights 
of Labor. They had three children: Tom, John and Anna. 

31 



Brian died in the coal mining town of Camelburg, Indiana, when Tom 
Mooney was about 11 years old. They gave him a mass working-class funeral 
and his fellow-miners hewed a giant statue out of coal and set it as a monument 
over his grave. They all chipped in to send Mary and the children back to 
Holyoke to her sisters. There were no widows' pensions in those days and she 
had to fight bitterly to prevent the authorities from taking her children and 
dividing them up among the farmers. 

She worked in the filthy rag rooms of the famous Holyoke paper companies, 
sorting out dirty scraps to be made into elegant stationery for the daughters of 
the rich. She earned four to five dollars a week on which to support her 
family of four. 

When Tom was old enough he served an apprenticeship in the moul decs' 
trade and got a job in Boston. His record as a fighter in the ranks of the class 
struggle is known to workers over the whole world. In 1916 he organized the 
streetcar workers of San Francisco and led them in a strike. The bosses wanted 
him out of the way. They framed him on perjured evidence and sent him to San 
Quentin for life on charges of having bombed the Preparedness Day parade. 
His innocence has been proved a thousand times over. Witnesses have confessed 
their perjury. The judge who sentenced him and the jury that found him guilty 
have implored the authorities to pardon him, declaring that they were tricked 
into condemning an innocent man. But Tom Mooney remains in jail, a living 
indictment of the class against which he raised his voice and his fist. 

The ay of FREE TOM MOONEY has echoed round the world. It is 
shouted by every tongue, printed on banners in every language. It is one of the 
battle cries of workers in every corner of the globe. 

In 1933, ill, weak and warned that the effort would prove fatal, Mother 
Mooney toured America and Europe with Ada Wright, mother of one of the 
Scottsboro boys, addressing the huge throngs of workers that turned out in 
every city, calling on them to join hands in the struggle to win freedom for 
class war prisoners. 

Mother Mooney never separated in her mind the freedom of her son from 
the victory of her class. To the organized strength of the workers she looked 
to get Tom free. 

"Let the funeral of my mother," said Tom Mooney, "be the funeral of a 
brave soldier in the class struggle who died in action. Let every speaker at my 
mother's grave, let every tribute to her heroic life bring out that she was & part 
of the struggle of the workers." 

Three thousand workers followed the coffin up Market Street to the Civic 
Auditorium. Thousands more uncovered and held their hats to their chests ©n 
the sidewalks that lined the march. Fourteen thousand packed the enormous 
hall in final tribute. 

32 



There was no preacher and no religious moaning. The uncovered coffin 
rested at the foot of the speakers' platform. In back a streamer ran the whole 
width of the Auditorium, reading: MOTHER MOONEY, WE WILL FINISH 
YOUR FIGHT. Young Communists with hammer and sickle emblems, arms 
folded, heads erect, were stationed at the entrances to every aisle. Henry 
Schmidt, militant rank and file leader of the International Longshoremen's 
Association, was the chairman. The speakers were Robert Whitaker, Leo 
Gallagher, attorney for the International Labor Defense, who defended the 
Reichstag frame-up prisoners in Nazi Germany, and Harry Bridges, longshore- 
man, member of the I.L.A., and rank and file leader of the great marine 
workers' strike. 

At the conclusion of the services, the audience stood and saluted Mother 
Mooney with upraised fists. 

This was the funeral of a working-class fighter who died at her post. She 
wanted to see Tom cleared and freed. She wanted to see the victory of her 
class. The task is now in our hands. We must finish the job. 



/i THE AWAKENING 
OF BARNACLE BILL 



Who is knocking at my door? 
Said the rich shipowner. 
What's this noise and what's it jor? 
Said the rich shipowner. 

1 want good grub and I want more pay. 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor, 
And more time 1 off and a lot more say, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

Vve sailed your scows 

Through wind and fog, 

Vve made you fat 

As a corn-fed hog, 

And I'll live no more 

Like a hungry dog, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 



33 



I'll tell Scharrenberg on you, 
Said the rich shipowner. 
I'll tell Green and Furuseth too, 
Said the rich shipowner. 

Make up your mind and make it up quick, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor, 
We're rank and file and we'll make it stick, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

We've set our sails 

And charted our course; 

We've bet our shirts 

On a union horse; 

To hell with your 

Vigilante force, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

I'll ship scabs and I'll break your ranks, 
Said the rich shipowner. 
I'll call troops and they'll bring their tanks, 
Said the rich shipowner. 

You'll do your worst, so do as you like, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

But don't forget the General Strike. 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

Your bloody threats 

May come to pass, 

But union men 

Are a solid mass, 

And you can't defeat 

The working class, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

You're a Red and a Communist, 
Said the rich shipowner. 
You're a bearded Bolshevik, 
Said the rich shipowner. 



34 



There's plenty of grub and goods for all, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 
Yet jobs are scarce and the pay is small, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

We want our share 

Of bread and cheese, 

And a decent shirt 

So a man don't freeze. 

You can call it anything 

You please, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

It's my world; it belongs to me, 
Said the rich shipowner. 
You've no right to dictate to me, 
Said the rich shipowner. 

You* re a parasite and a swindler too, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 
The world don't need the likes of you, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

You've sucked the blood 
Of the working guys, 
But millions of men 
Are getting wise. 
And we'll take no more 
Of your tricks and lies, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

1 am culture and civilization, 
Said the rich shipowner. 
Banish me and you wreck creation, 
Said the rich shipowner. 

You're the profiteer who starves our kids, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 
Your capitalist system is on the skids, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 



35 



Your day has come, 

You've met your jate. 

We'll launch a better 

Ship of state. 

We'll vote a Farmer- 

Labor slate, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

I'll beat drums and declare a war. 
Said the rich shipowner. 
You've been fooled that way before, 
Said the rich shipowner. 

If you start a war, you'll fight it too, 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 
We'll spill no guts for the likes of you^ 
Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

We'll take the mills, 

The ships, the land; 

We'll guide them all 

With labor's hand; 

Your rule will fall 

And ours will stand, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

Woe is me, it's the end of man, 
Said the rich shipowner. 
I'll kill all of you I can, 
Said the rich shipowner. 

If blood must be, it's you; not me, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

Who'll bear the guilt for the blood that's spilt, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 

You've run the show 

In your own mad way; 

It's the workers' turn 

To have their say. 

We're neanng the dawn 

Of a better day, 

Said Barnacle Bill the sailor. 



36 



Journalism 

//LINCOLN STEFFENS: 
IN MEMORIAM 

(Sunday Worker, August 16, 1936) 

An old man closed his eyes the other night and American capitalism 
recorded the death of one of its most effective and respectable enemies. But 
his passing will afford them no relief from the deadly cannonading of his pen. 
He left behind a tradition and an inspiration that is deathless and which gains 
in weight and momentum daily. 

He picked up the task when there were few to tackle it, but he left it in the 
hands of a legion. His books still pass from man to man leaving a trail of 
enlightenment and determination behind them. And they are the kind of books 
that change and shape the minds that absorb them, leaving men stronger, better 
equipped and more capable of life. 

America's rulers trained him for their own purposes, and he used this skill 
to strip them of their disguises and lambaste them before the public gaze. They 
called it muckraking. If that's what it is, then well and good. He exposed the 
infamous and scandalous truth behind American politics and business — a 
decidedly unpleasant truth to America's prosperous three percent. 

There was no scandal mongering or sensationalism about either his books 
or articles. He was not seeking to attract public attention with exciting novel- 
ties. He wanted to see something done about it. And it is this strong vein of 
sincerity and personal concern that flows through all his writings that has given 
them their power and lasting influence. 

The spectacular integrity of Lincoln StefTens inevitably won him the label 
of a Bolshevik. During the last year of his life, although he was bedridden in 
his home in Carmel, the San Francisco Industrial Association and other 
organizations of leading millionaires, issued bulletins and press releases refer- 
ring to him as a dangerous red and the "brains behind Pacific Coast radical 
activities." They even installed an elaborate espionage apparatus in Carmel to 
trace the threads of his influence. 

Lincoln StefTens was not a Bolshevik. Yet, as an intimate friend and 
admirer of V. I. Lenin, he regarded this as the highest tribute that had ever 
been paid to him, and frankly regretted that it was unmerited. 

37 



Stevens had been the intimate of the greatest political and literary figures 
of his day. Yet the thing that he laid greatest stress and value on was his 
intimacy with the man in the street. 

He hammered into our heads that the opinions of the man in the street 
were news. What the carpenters, seamen, longshoremen, mechanics, waiters, 
laborers were saying was "news." When events of significance were before the 
public eye, he urged us not to concentrate on the mouthings of prominent 
figures, but to go out and talk to the man in the street and report his opinion. 
Stop the passer-by, question him and quote him, was the gist of his advice. 

He knew the limitations as well as the power of his profession. He knew 
that the monster of capitalism could neither be drowned in ink nor scratched 
out with a pen. At best, he regarded the writers as range-finders or searchlights. 
Their bright beams could illuminate the problem, but only practical, organized 
struggle could correct it. The class struggle prisoners within California's 
penitentiaries claimed his greatest love and admiration. These were the front 
line fighters who were "doing something about it." Mooney, Billings, McNa- 
mara and the Criminal Syndicalism prisoners had in Steffens a fearless and 
loyal friend. 

Steffens was a practical man, not a sentimentalist. His respect and faith in 
the working class was not based on any emotionalism. He saw in the working 
class the only agency that could and would "do something about it" — the only 
force capable of creating a fair and decent society. And the working class has 
lost a capable and fearless ally with his death. 



THE KING OF BEASTS IS A LOUSE 



(Western Worker, April, 1936) 

Oh! Pity my corns and my fallen arches, 
1 am the finger of bells who marches 
House to house on an errand accursed, 
Begging subscribers for Willie Hearst. 

'Tis bad enough trudging from house to house, 
But twelve kinds of hell to be serving a louse. 
Some jobs are God-awful, but mine is the worst, 
Peddling the garbage that's printed by Hearst. 



38 



1 ring someone's bell. I stand on one leg, 
Smiling a smile like a fresh fried- egg. 
The housewife comes and opens the door. 
1 go through my song and dance once more. 

"Ah, Madame, I'll give you 

"A porcelain pot, 

rf A hand-painted screen 
rt 0r a house and lot, 

"An aluminum pan 
"Or a fine steam yacht 

"For one month's subscription; 

"Please sign on the dot." 

"Young man," she replies, 
"You may stand there and smirk, 
"But Yll sell my own girls 
"To the Terrible Turk 
"Before Yd allow 
"To be brought in my house 
"The red-baiting slop 
"Of the Hearstian louse." 

Bell after bell, mile after mile, 
Smiling my ghastly, practised smile. 
My ears resound to the multiple roars 
Of a symphony of slamming doors. 

Up flights of stairs to ring and wait 
To spiel my bribing premium bait. 
The footsteps come, the door swings wide 
And I speak my piece to the man inside. 

"Good Sir, Yll give you 
"A bar of soap, 
"A Meerschaum pipe, 
"Or your horoscope, 
"Or the benediction of the Pope. 
"You'll sign, 1 hope?" 



39 



"Young man/' he replies, 
"I would sdoner chew 
"The worn out sole 
"Of a leper* s shoe 
"Than soil my hands 
"And spoil my eyes 
"With the ravings of Hearst 
"And his fascist lies" 

Oh! Pity my fate to be peddling the scum 
From the festered brain of a parasite bum. 
A man must be hungry enough to be nuts 
To slave for a man when he hates his guts. 

Oh! Pity the blundering of creation, 
Pity the world's degeneration, 
That 1 should sell filth from house to house, 
And the King of Beastj should be a louse. 



/'THE WRITER'S TASK 



(Western Worker, August 24, 1936) 

Lincoln Steffens was one of the early experimenters in ways of utilizing 
the truth about capitalist corruption to destroy capitalist corruption. In the 
beginning, he envisioned this task as a series of reforms and "clean-ups." In 
later days, he understood that you cannot destroy a poisonous plant by harvest- 
ing its fruits. You have to pull it up by the roots. He knew that the only wty 
to eliminate capitalist corruption was to do away with the capitalist system 
and establish socialism. 

His writings had a quality and skill that deserve close examination. 

It is easy to sit down to a typewriter and arouse joy and enthusiasm among 
readers who already agree with you. All people, revolutionary or otherwise, 
Jike to see their own ideas and convictions confirmed in print. And they will 
Record swift and vigorous approval to the writer who will perfectly mirror 
their own intellects, however faulty or confused. 

It is quite another matter to address your pen to persons who are bitterly 
antagonistic to your ideas, to command their interest, win their understanding, 

no 



and revise their opinions to conform with your own. Such writing ignores the 
easy flourishes which would bring warm applause from the home town 
bleachers, but would leave the opposing opinion cold and unmoved. Such writ- 
ing must carefully understand the contents of the disagreeing mind and address 
itself accordingly. 

What difference does it make what you say or how correct you are if your 
listener remains unconvinced or fails to understand you? The man who agreed 
with you before you opened your mouth will be quick to commend your 
utterance. It may be of some value to spur his enthusiasm, but that is of inci- 
dental importance. 

And this is one of the skillful qualities of Lincoln Steffens' work that must 
be studied and practiced. He did not write abstractly or into thin air. When he 
wrote, he knew for whom he was writing. He visualized a definite intellect 
with prejudices, fixed ideas, habits of thought and sensibilities. His writings 
were aimed at a real, living, flesh and blood audience. 

As a consequence, his writings were dynamic. People picked up his books 
with one point of view and closed them with another. 

In a certain sense, his "liberalism" was deliberate and calculated rather 
than arising from any lack of revolutionary conviction on his part. His deepest 
desire was to "change the world." That was a task which only the working 
class could accomplish. His share in the work was to change people's thinking. 

To judge the stature of Steffens' contribution to the revolutionary cause, 
we must not look to how much applause his writings received among the 
Communists and Socialists of the nation. Frequently these already convinced 
elements found his phrasing "peculiar" and roundabout. For a true measure- 
ment, we must look to the tremendous influence he had upon the un-class- 
conscious masses of America. 



GRANDFATHER GETS THE NEWS 



(Western Worker, October, 1937)' 

My Grandfather was sitting on the front porch one day smoking his pipe 
when the newsboy came by and socked him in the face with the daily paper. 
It was all rolled up in a hard knot so the boy could hurl it at the front door 
as he rode by on his bicycle. 

Up leapt my grandfather and roared like a lion. His drowsy complacency 
disappeared in a flash. Instead, there was a man aroused to the dangers and 
injustices of life, churning the air with his fists and screaming indignation. The 

41 



impact of a single newspaper, as if by magic, had transformed a drowsy old 
man into an explosion of energy and action. 

That was my first glimpse of real journalism. And it is seldom since that 
I have seen an editor achieve such results as that meteor-like newsboy. 

Apathy; a dulled sense of reality; tired, rut-flowing minds that scarcely 
distinguish between what they read in the papers and what they see in the 
movies; an illusion of detachment; a weary sense of fatality that accepts life 
as an inexplicable scenario written by God Almighty, directed by Wall Street, 
and in which the ordinary man is a lost and unimportant extra. 

That is the blanket of fog through which the modern journalist must cleave. 

And nobody believes what they read in the daily papers anyway. The 
American public long ago closed the doors and windows of its mind to the 
commercial press. At one time they took what they read in the papers with a 
grain of salt. Today they pickle it in brine. 

Moon Mullins sells the San Francisco Chronicle, not Chester Rowell. 
Barney Google carries the burdens of the San Francisco Examiner, dragging 
| jjHearst's editorials as a dead weight behind him. 

Unable to gain entrance to the public mind through the door, they are 

i trying to climb in through the sewer. Hideous sex crimes force every other 
consideration into the background. At the least rumor of a rape, editors clear 
their front pages and send batteries of photographers rushing to the scene like 
Peeping Toms. Look at the magazine racks. Good Heavens above! Raped, 
stripped' and murdered; photographed, painted and drawn; buxom, half- 
draped figures being whipped, attacked, kidnaped and strangled. There's 
where your sex-crimes are manufactured. Lurid pictures like these dangled in 
front of thousands of men bug-eyed with sex-starvation. 

The state of apathy has almost reached the stage where you could carry a 
human head on the end of a stick the length of Market Street and not excite 
any attention. We heed that newsboy who socked my grandfather in the face. 
If anyone knows his whereabouts, tell him to report to the Western Worker. 
That's the kind of journalism we need. 

The newly developing people's press in America is inheriting this fog 
bank of apathy from the rapidly foundering commercial press. Our task is 
not merely to inform, but to find means of making people realize the news. 

The whole technique of the commercial press is to make the "ordinary 
man" feel that he is an impotent, unimportant extra in the scenario of life. 
We've got to make him realize that he is important, all powerful, and that 
he can write his own scenario — and we've got to tell him how to do it. We've 
got to show him that he doesn't have to drag an unsatisfactory life through 
a series of misfortunes. We've got to deliver our subjects like that newsboy 
delivered his paper. 

42 



Philosophy 
TO THE LIBERALS 

(Pacific Weekly, November, 1935) 

7 think the eccentricities 

And reservations of the Liberals 

Are due to an odd conceit. 

They think they have a deeper feeling for 

And a truer understanding of 

Life. 

They value poetry, music, nature; 

Other subtleties, and 

They imagine these values are totally unappreciated by 

Overalls. 

I say to these cultured gentlemen, 

We appreciate the fine flavor of rare brandies, 

And the emotional depth of Beethoven's Fifth, 

And a capon stuffed with chestnuts is more delicious 

Than a corpulent missionary to a cannibal. 

The poetry of Shelley is the quintessence of 

Leftism — 

Even if the garbage man never heard of it — 

And the laughter of a little child 

In a narrow city alley 

Is more beautiful 

Than Benvenuto Cellini's most intricate chalice. 

Nevertheless, gentlemen, 

We have leaflets to distribute; 

And the meat of Leninism 

Goes beyond "to appreciate fully/' 

And imposes upon us 

That most difficult of all human undertakings, 

"To explain patiently! 9 

And sometimes we must be tarred and feathered, 

And sometimes there are long hours, 

Months, years, 

In jail. 



43 



And sometimes men are shot down in cold blood 

In the city streets. 

And we owe more to S perry and Bordois 

Than to our own sense of aestheticism. 

And when we have paid that debt, gentlemen } 

Perhaps we will join you in a brandy. 

For with all this, 

We are no enemies of brandy 

And great admirers of Shelley. 



FITTING IN: 
THE TWO PHILOSOPHERS 

(Western Worker, ^937) 

Once there were two philosophers who answered an ad in the newspaper 
and got themselves jobs as lighthouse tenders on a lonely island way out in 
the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They were the only human beings on the 
island and there was only one little house for them to live in. 

After they had been put ashore with all their lugguge, and the steamer 
had sailed away, they picked up their suitcases and started walking toward the 
house. 

Although they were philosophers, they had entirely different philosophies. 
Said one of them as they walked along: "This is a lonely, god-forsaken look- 
ing place, but with my philosophy I am sure that I will be able to fit myself 
into it. I can accommodate myself to anything in time. It is merely a matter 
of adjusting one's mind to it." 

"It is lonely enough," the other philosopher replied, "but I am sure that 
we will be able to fix it up so that it is suitable to our needs It is just a 
matter of a little hard work and perseverance/' 

So saying, they entered the house and had a look around. Everything went 
well until they entered the bedroom. 

"Good heavens!" exclaimed one. "The last people who lived here must 
have been dwarfs." 

And it was true enough, because the two beds they found were little tiny 
things scarcely large enough to hold a child. 

"We'll certainly have to change this," continued the philosopher. "We 
could never fit ourselves into those." 

44 



The other man shook his head profoundly. "I can see you are one of those 
radical complainers," he remarked. "Why don't you let well enough alone 
and take things as you find them? That's my philosophy. Fit yourself in. 
Why try to change the world? Take it as it is and make the best of it. That's 
my philosophy." 

"But," said the other, "wouldn't it be wiser to get busy with a little effort 
and make the beds larger? That's what I'm going to do with mine." 

"You are an impractical dreamer," said the other philosopher. "Why! In 
the first place you would have to chop down a tree and saw it into boards and 
hammer nails into them and heaven knows what all." 

"That's true enough," said the other. "But what needs doing must be 
done. And if I don't do it, I will never be able to get a good night's rest." 

"It's all very well for you to go on raving about your Utopian ideas," said 
the conservative philosopher. "But just try to put them into practice. Suppose 
the tree falls on you? Suppose you get slivers in your lingers? Suppose you 
miss the nail with the hammer and hit your thumb? You radicals never stop 
to consider those things." 

"Do as you please," said the other. "But as for me, I'm going to change 
things to a more comfortable shape." So saying, he got busy with an axe and 
started chopping down a tree. 

The other man took off his clothes and began soaking himself in a rub 
of cold water. The chattering of his teeth made such a racket that it attracted 
the industrious philosopher. "What in the name of common sense are you 
doing?" he asked. 

"I am shrinking myself/' said the other. "By nightfall I will be exactly 
the right size to fit the bed." 

He caught a very bad cold but failed to shorten his length. Then he got 
out a pencil and began writing an essay on the benefits of discomfort in order 
to justify his position. Along sundown, he approached his companion who by 
now was hammering the last nails into his finished bed. "I say," he declared, 
"I have been thinking the matter over and have decided to chop off my legs. 
My feet hurt me anyway and that would make me just the right length." 

"Help yourself to the axe," said his companion. 

He rolled his pants legs up, put one leg on the block, hefted the axe, and 
then changed his mind. "If God meant me to suffer," he said, "it is better 
that I suffer and not try to interfere with his will." 

Late that night, the industrious philosopher was awakened by someone 
shaking his shoulder. "The thing I don't like about you Communists," said 
the conservative, "is that in the end all you are thinking of is yourself. How 
can you sleep comfortably in that big bed while I, a fellow human being, am 
cramped beyond human endurance." 

45 



"Climb in," said the radical, "and stop blubbering." 

The conservative crawled in, stretched out his legs, and sighed in relief. 
Then, before going to sleep, he said: "If this is some trick you've got up your 
sleeve to put some of your propaganda over on me, you might as well forget 
it. I have a mind of my own and ideas of my own, and I am not going to be 
dictated to. This bed will probably collapse before morning anyhow. So don't 
say I didn't warn you." 



THE MAN IN THE RAIN 

You go to work and you go there knowing 
Some guy don't know where he's going; 
Some guy wanders in the rain 
Hungry in stomach and in brain. 

You work all day, you work all week; 
Take it rebellious or take it meek; 
But take it you do and your laboring brain 
Never forgets the guy in the rain. 

The guy in the rain can hypnotize 

With sick, humiliated eyes, 

And every hour, awake, asleep, 

He herds your thoughts like timid sheep. 

The hours are long. The pay is small. 
The guy in the rain has nothing at all. 
Stand up, demand, protest, complain? 
You too might wander in the rain. 

The man in the rain is gaunt and lean; 

He begs with apologetic mien. 

He was clubbed to his knees 'til he learned to crawl, 

And his moaning makes coward} of us all. 

As long as he crawls, we'll crawl the same; 
As long as he's humble, we'll share his shame. 
There will be no peace for body or brain 
As long as that man is out in the rain. 

46 




47 



Turn out more work! Keep up the pace! 
Or the man m the rain might take your place. 
The price of your pride, if you're indiscreet, 
May be lonely months in tie city street. 

Those blood shot eyes, that hungry look, 
Haunt you like the ghost in a book. 
Everything cowardly rises to meet 
The gaze o] the hungry man in the street. 

He /• m for dines w\th furtive s h ame, 
As ij he were himself to blame. 
Y7e give, or not, then flee his face; 
For we might some day take his place. 

The r£ !C$tt and the whip are gone 
But stdl the slaves are driven an. 
The 'car of poverty and disgrace 
Is lashing us on at a sharper pace. 

Jhe fear of shame, of want, of pain; 
The fear of the lonely man in the rain, 
Is making sUves in a cowardly block 
Of men of good rebellious stock. 

One hundred million men and their wives 
Living cheated, hamstrung lives. 
When, God Almighty, will they run 
From the shadow of fear and into the sun? 

When will they learn that peace and ease 
Cannot be reached on hands and knees? 
No man on earth will ever find 
Peace while poverty haunts his mind. 

No man can crawl to Paradise 

Down avenues of hungry eyes. 

There will be no peace for body or brain 

As Long as that man is out in the rain. 



MILLIONS OF RIP VAN WINKLES 



(Western Worker, 1936) 

The smooth white smoke coiled lazily from the glowing tips of a dozen 
cigars and merged into a thick cloud against the panelled ceiling of the 
chamber. It ascended ghost-like around the crystal chandelier, writhing slowly, 
changing constantly from one vague pattern to another like the troubled 
thoughts of the assembled statesmen. 

Deep in the cushions of their leather chairs, the representatives of twelve 
great nations slouched in worried splendor. The creases in their trousers were 
keen as damascus blades and their shirts were white as snow. But the thoughts 
within their troubled brains were frayed and brown like the chewed ends of 
their cigars. In vain, they sought to ease their fretted minds by cushioning their 
hams. But the human intellect must sit squarely on the jagged corners of its 
own shortcomings, even though its owner's rump be implanted in overstuffed 
luxury. 

Before them stood a twisted little man whose eyes were so close together 
that his eyebrows had grown into one. A thick pair of pince-nez glasses perched 
on his long thin nose like an ugly bug with huge wings. He did not look born 
of woman, but as if some cynical creator had plunged a twisted piece of wire 
into a thin batter and let it dry. 

"Gentlemen," he said, "you have come hither to learn the secret of our 
economic stability. You have come to this country because here we have estab- 
lished the perfect Fascist society. While other nations have wallowed deeper 
in their difficulties, we have discovered a means whereby capitalism can be 
made to operate smoothly. 

"The basis of our plan is a very old Yogi formula whereby human beings 
can be put to sleep for an indefinite period of time. While in this state of 
hypnosis, they require neither food nor attention of any kind and are adjudged 
to be more happy than when in normal possession of their faculties. They can 
remain in this condition for months or years without any serious damage to 
their constitutions." 

Here one of the foreign statesmen interrupted him. "But that's practically 
the same as killing a man." 

"Not at all," said the twisted little Fascist diplomat. "These people can 
be awakened out of their hypnosis at any time and put back to work. In our 
country, we have no unemployment. As fast as workers get out of jobs, we 
put them in a state of hypnosis and store them away in warehouses. We have 
them all filed in alphabetical order and classified according to their various 

49 



trades and abilities. Whenever an employer needs additional labor, he makes 
his selection from a card index. The necessary number of men or women are 
revived and put to work. 

"In the event of war, we have over fifteen million trained men stacked 
up in our warehouses, ready to be awakened at a moment's notice." 

'This is almost ideal," said one of the statesmen. "With such a plan we 
can solve every difficulty we have ever known." 

"Not quite," said the twisted man. "The plan is not perfect. There is only 
one difficulty. When we started it, we had two million unemployed, all of 
whom we hypnotized and filed away in warehouses. In this manner, we were 
able to stop all relief expenses and cut taxes. However, since this removed two 
million purchasers from the market, it cut down sales and forced employers 
to lay off another two million men. These also were hypnotized and filed away. 
Again the buying public had been decreased and still more men had to be 
laid off. 

"At the present time, more than three-fourths of our population are 
hypnotized and stacked in warehouses, and the number is increasing at a rate 
of several hundred thousand a month. If it keeps on at this rate, the entire 
population will be in a state of hypnosis within three years." 

"And what do you propose to do to solve this situation?" asked one of the 
diplomats. 

"We have studied the matter very carefully," said the twisted man," and 
it is our belief that the only solution lies in finding new foreign markets for 
our goods. Our own population cannot purchase our merchandise because they 
are all asleep in the warehouses. And we cannot awaken them because there 
are no jobs. 

"Foreign nations are manufacturing their own goods and refusing to 
import ours. This is the root of the whole economic problem. If foreign nations 
refuse to purchase our goods, then they must be forced to purchase our goods. 
It means war! Our nation has solved its own economic problems by hypnosis. 
That is not enough. It is necessary that we solve the economic problems of 
the whole world. Thus will our nation fulfill its historic destiny and relieve 
the congestion in our warehouses." 



50 



CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS 



7 was a revolutionist in my way. 

Their stones were flung 
At me. I felt the bitter spray 

Of their reactionary tongue. 

I said the world was round 

But their flat breed 
Had flat ideas. Their minds were flat, 

And flatness was their creed. 

I felt their scorn. They called me 

Idiot and fool, 
And spent their empty breath 

In boundless ridicule. 

They tried so hard to fit 

Their smug, flat notions 
On the round world's vast unwandered plains 

And rolling oceans. 

Their flat talk did not jit 

The round world, and 1 knew 

Their ancient flatness must give way 
To what was true. 



I sailed three ships upon the sea 

Beyond the knowledge of my day. 

A kingdom's laughter filled my sails 
And sped me on my way. 

Wild ridicule and mortal fear 

Were mingled in their breath; 

For few men saw me sail but thought 
I sailed unto my death. 



51 



Long days and nights of fear and hope 

On a vast uncharted blue, 
We pressed toward an unknown goal 

With a sick and frenzied crew. 

Till over the starboard bow one day, 

Against the morning sky, 
We thrilled to the sight of a brand new world 

With mountains looming high. 

Then back to the men who argued flat 

And ridiculed the round, 
We carried proof of the promised land 

And the wondrous things we'd found. 



3. 



We gave them a new and larger world, 
Round, rich and really remarkable, 

And aivay they sailed to conquer it 
With all the troops embarkable. 

And little they cared if the world ivas round 
Or their theories contradicted; 

'Twas but new space in which their greed 
Could riot unrestricted. 

They battled over boundaries to 
The tune of cannon thunder. 

Discovery was but a hand 

That beckoned them to plunder. 

Yet I was a revolutionist 

And brought in my small way, 
Some roundness and perspective 

To the flat he ads of my day. 



52 



BONGO AND WOWSY 



(Western Worker, 1937) 

"Why/' asked Bongo, "must we stick bones in our noses and slit our 
ears? Just giye me one good reason. That's all I ask/' 

Wowzy half smiled as if he didn't know whether to take his friend 
seriously. "What kind of craziness are you talking?" he asked. "Do you want 
us to go running around in front of everyone without any bones in our noses? 
Don't be vulgar. Sometimes I think you've got the filthiest mind in the tribe/' 

They were sitting in the afternoon sun by the edge of the river. Wowzy 
was sharpening his beheading knife. Bongo was dipping arrows in poison. 
Behind them the village nestled in a jungle clearing. Modern huts of mud and 
sticks lined the street. Beautiful sun-bleached human skulls set on sticks 
decorated nearly every dwelling, testifying to the prosperity of the community. 
The temple of the Good Gooey Gow was resplendent with more than a thou- 
sand skulls in rows and tiers until it shown in the sun like the snow on the 
highest mountains, its sheer beauty dominating the village. 

On this day most of the people of Soggy Mop were in their huts sleeping 
off the effects of the previous night's feasting. 

"I don't know," said Bongo. "Sometimes it worries me. Take last night, 
for instance. It doesn't seem right to me that human beings should eat each 
other." 

Wowzy spat in disgust. "What's the matter .with, you lately? Are you 
losing your appetite? I watched you last night. You hardly toyed with your 
food." 

"Think what you please, but it isn't right," said Bongo. "Human beings 
should not eat each other." 

"Good Gooey GowJ" exclaimed Wowzy. "You can't dictate to people 
what they're going to eat and what they're not going to eat. Men have always 
eaten each other and always will. It's natural. You can't change human nature/* 

"Well, the Red Bolshos don't eat each other." 

Wowzy started as if someone had jabbed him with a spear. His head 
jerked from side to side to see if anyone had overheard. 

"Have you gone crazy?" he asked, a little out of patience. "Do you want 
to get both of us staked to an ant hill?" 

"I can't help it," said Bongo. "I can't go on living like this. I don't want 
to kill men. I don't want to eat them. I don't want to sacrifice every third 
child to the altar of Gooey Gow." 

"Alien ideas from the other side of the river," accused Wowzy. "We won't 

53 



have anything to do with anything that wasn't thought of on this side of the 
river. We don't need foreign isms." 

"Whatever you say, we should stop killing and eating each other." 
Wowzy shook his head tolerantly. A half amused smile came over his 
face. "Ideals, my boy — ideals' You'll live to see it. Why don't you knuckle 
down and make something of yourself? There was a time when you were as 
upright and promising as any young man in the village. If you had devoted 
half as much time to making a success of yourself as you have to sneaking 
off in the jungle to listen to the Red Bolshos, you would have over a hundred 
skulls decorating your front yard by this time. You could have as many wives 
as yuu pleased." 

"I love my fellow men," said Bongo stubbornly. 
"So do I," agreed Wowzy; "with gravy on them." 
"1 want a better world," said Bongo. "I won't go on living like this." 
Somehow, Wowzy's heart went out to the boy. He laid aside his beheading 
knife and put one hand on his shoulder. "Son, I don't like to hear you talking 
this way. You've got a mother. She's getting old. Pretty soon she won't be able 
to chop wood any more and we'll be drowning her. Do you want her to go to 
Gooey Gow feeling her boy was a failure? Two measly little skulls in your 
yard. That's all you've got. People are beginning to talk. You're not getting 
any younger, you know. The sooner vou get this radical foolishness out of your 
head, the sooner you are going to have a hundred skulls and be able to spit 
upon whomever you please in the village. I know how you feel. I once had 
ideals myself. We all did. But we get over them. Civilization is too old. We've 
advanced too far for you to change anything now. It's the fellow who gets 
the skulls who amounts to something. You can't change that. What incentive 
would there be for men to go on killing? Civilization would collapse. Come 
now. What say we forget all about it? Let's you and me go and have a little 
someone to eat, and say no more about this Red Bolsho radicalism." 



54 



THE FLOOD 



(Western Worker, 1937) 

/ am the flood, my deathly waters flow 
Sweeping the homes before me as 1 go 
Relentlessly across the fields and down, 
Pouring my endless volume on the town, 

Drowning the poor and driving all before 
The onslaught of my cataracts that roar, 
Ripping up houses, fences, gardens, trees; 
Littering wreckage; scattering disease. 

mushing tides that tear and strip the soil 
And batter down long centuries of toil; 
Strangling life and hope with every tread, 
Leaving a muddy shambles strewn with dead. 

Deep in the books that patients repose 

On quiet shelves in libraries, in rows, 

The knowledge and the science that could chain 

My deathly tides, for many years has lain. 

The careful plans, the charts and diagrams 
Of countless needed levees, dikes and dams, 
Lie yellowing in files where they were thrust 
By millionaires who own the power trust. 

The engineers whose brains hold all the skill 
To cage my giant energy at will, 
Must stand aside and watch my waters rage, 
For they themselves are locked inside a cage. 

» 
Like China, where my waters take their toll, 

While war-lords pocket funds for flood control, 

My cataracts will riot through the years, 

'Til Socialism frees the engineers. 



55 



ENLIGHTENED AGE 

An Old Salt Yam 

The old sailor scratched a match on his wooden leg, slowly touched it to 
his pipe and gazed thoughtfully out beyond the bay. The tide was just coming 
in in long, white crested waves. "So you want a story," he said. 

The children, squatting around the box where he sat raised their voices in 
shrill pleadings. When he removed the pipe from his mouth they subsided 
into rapt silence. 

"So I'll tell you of the civilization that strangled on its own intelligence. 
It was a long time ago, and no such enlightened age as this. There were two 
great and magnificent nations — the wealthiest there ever was — ari^l a great 
ocean lay in between them. 

"They was smart people and they invented machinery that was so fast 
the goods came gushing out of their factories like water from a busted hydrant. 
Automobiles, flatirons, furniture, kitchen stoves, washing machines, percola- 
tors, ready made suits, hot water bottles — anything you wanted, .they just 
pressed a button and you was up to your neck in it. 

"They was so smart they didn't need no sailors to sail their ships. Every- 
thing was run by radio. The shipowners and admirals just sat in deep chairs 
and smoked two-bit cigars and run the ships by pressing buttons. 

"They had so much food they fattened pigs on strawberry shortcake and 
all the public swimming pools was full of milk. The vegetables boiled right 
out of the soil and the wheat grew so fast they had to reap it every day. 

"They was most prosperous, these ancient men, but they ran into diffi- 
culties. They wasn't much for the working stiffs to do and they was mostly 
out of work. They was dying like flies from starvation. The rich owners tried 
to end the depression but unemployment was a mystery which nobody could 
say what caused it, so they was pretty much up against it. 

"Meanwhile, they couldn't sell all the food or fancy novelties they manu- 
factured, so they had to boost prices to cover the loss they was taking. The 
more they boosted prices the less they sold. Things just went on worsening 
and worsening till they was worse than ever. 

"The working stiffs in these two great nations began to get disrespectful 
and talk a lot of Bolshevik nonsense. That scared the rich people, so there 
was nothing else to do but have a war. 

"Pretty soon, the two biggest fleets of battleships the world ever saw was 
out in the ocean churning up the waves like the plunger in your mother's 
washing machine. They was thousands of ships and some of them was a 

56 



mile long and had guns so big you could drive a sightseeing bus down their 
muzzles. They made a noise so loud they rattled window panes on the moon 
and it cost a million dollars every time you shot one off. 

"But there wasn't a living soul within thousands of miles. They was all 
operated by radio and the guns was aimed by television. There was millions 
of tons of steel ships in the middle of the ocean blowing each other to kingdom 
come and not a gob or an admiral anywhere around to get a medal for it. 

"As fast as one ship got sunk, another was sent to take its place, and they 
was building and launching ships at a rate of a hundred a day. 

"For a while it looked like this was going to save civilization because it 
made work for everybody. The rich was getting richer and wages were going 
higher and higher, but prices was going higher twice as fast as wages. Finally 
it got so that millionaires was starving in the streets because they couldn't 
buy a sandwich and billionaires was considered middleclass. Trillionaires was 
just on the fringe of respectability. How much money the rich people had, 
nobody knew because the adding machines couldn't count up that high. 

"At the end of three years things was getting used up. They had tore down 
all the mountains and sifted them for minerals. The mines was dug so deep 
they'd run into molten lava. They wasn't a tree left in either country and birds 
was building their nests in telegraph poles. The oil wells was sucked dry and 
they was burning food for fuel. 

"Meanwhile, there were those two big navies out in the middle of the 
ocean blazing away at each other and nobody seemed to know how to call 
a halt to it all. Even the rich people was beginning to be inconvenienced, so 
you can see what a serious state things had reached. 

"Then there came a day when there wasn't a thing left to either country 
but just big piles of refuse. The people was all skinny as chop sticks and their 
eyes hung out of their sockets like grapes. They had nothing but just an old 
towel to wrap around his middle and humanity was nothing but hundreds of 
millions of Mahatma Ghandis. All the babies was born with tired faces and 
cursed their parents the minute they opened their eyes. 

"They forgot all about the big navies. The firing stopped and the ships just 
drifted where they pleased. Nobody even inquired who won. The people lived 
in caves along the seashore and ate shellfish and seaweed. It was millions of 
years before the flowers and trees began to grow again and the birds sang." 

The old sailor stopped talking. The tide was high and the sun was 
lowering in the east. The fishing boats were returning to the bay with their 
day's catch. The shrill voice of a little girl broke the quiet. 

"Oh pshaw! I don't believe it. "'Taint so and it never happened." 

The old sailor fumbled in his vest for a match. 

"It's hard to believe," he said, "in an enlightened age like this." 

57 




Book Two 



FASCISM 
AND WAR 



Spain: Herald of World War 



NOT VALID FOR TRAVEL IN SPAIN 



(Western Worker, October, 1937)' 

The other day a friend of mine — a kindly old gentleman with pince-nez 
glasses and a long grey beard — applied for a passport. He was going to Hol- 
land and Switzerland to study cheese. 

"You are not going to Spain, are you?" asked the man at the desk. 

"Heavens, no," said the old gentleman. "I am going to Switzerland to 
study cheese. Why do you ask?" 

"Oh, nothing — nothing," said the man. "I was just wondering/* 

After due formalities, the old man received his passport. Adjusting his 
glasses and opening it at random, he observed a paragraph rubber-stamped in 
red ink: 

"This passport is not valid for travel to or in any foreign state in connection 
with entrance into or service in foreign military or naval forces." 

And as if this were not enough, directly under it: 

"This passport is not valid for travel in SPAIN." 

And to make it completely emphatic: 

"Iste pasaporte no es valido para viajar en ESPANA." 

And finally: 

"Ce passeport n'est pas valable pour voyager en ESPAGNE." 

"Good gracious sakes," said the old gentleman, "what is happening to the 
world?" 

"These are troublous times," sighed the clerk. 

Clucking his tongue, the old man turned another page and read: 

"This passport not valid for travel in or to China." 

"Remarkable!" he exclaimed. "Remarkable!" 

"The world grows smaller," said the clerk. 

"Well, fortunately," said the old gentleman, "it k cheese and not pagodas 
that I am studying." 

"I don't know," said the clerk. "I don't know what to think. No one who 
comes in here is going to Spain. Some of them are going to Paris to study 
art, some of them intend to photograph the cathedrals, some of them want to 
see feae Sphinx-— I even had one man who said he was going abroad to study 

61 



spots on the moon." The clerk sighed. "But somehow, they all seem to end up 
in Spain in the loyalist trenches." 

"It's incredible," said the old gentleman. 

"And you," said the clerk, "are going to Switzerland to study cheese. What 
am I to think?" 

"Ah well," said the old man. "Ah well." He turned the passport upside 
down and a pink slip fell. Unfolding it carefully he read: 

"You will note that the enclosed passport is endorsed 'Not valid for travel 
in Spain.' Accordingly, the use of the passport for that purpose without 
obtaining an appropriate amendment thereto by the Department or by an 
American consular or diplomatic officer will constitute a violation of Section 
221 of Title 22 of the United States Code, which nrakes it unlawful to use a 
passport in violation of the conditions or restrictions contained therein." 

"All this," said the old gentleman, "suggests to me that the tide of traffic 
toward Spain must be exceedingly great." 

"It is the policy of America," said the clerk, "to encourage its citizens to 
take a neutral attitude toward foreign conflicts." 

"Do you mean that the person should be indifferent to which side wins 
or loses?" 

"That seems to be the idea," said the clerk. 

"For a man to be indifferent about a vital issue the outcome of which will 
affect the whole world and everyone living, he would, of course," said the 
old gentleman, "have to be an absolute ass." 

"Yes," said the clerk, "I believe that would be necessary." 



SO-LONG TO A GOOD GUY 



(Correspondence with a Lincoln Brigader) 

San Francisco, California 
December 23, 1937 
Dear Fritz: 

Your letters are here before me. You say that our paper reaches you there 
in the trenches, even if my letters do not, and that you are able to keep contact 
with me through my column. Well, here I am, talking to you directly. When 
you read this you will read it in a wrinkled and tattered, month-old copy 
passed from hand to hand along the Madrid defenses. 

The pin you bought in Quinto and sent in your last letter is on my lapel 



62 



right now. If I had my choice of parting with the pin or the coat, I'd keep the 
pin. 

Your hands were cold, you say, when you wrote that letter. You never 
realized a winter could be so cold. 

Close your eyes, sometimes, as you lean on your rifle and remember how 
we used to stretch out on a hatch cover in the tropical sun when we were 
shipmates on the old "Cambrai." Remember the smooth green seas, the flying 
fish, and warm nights when we used to pull our mattresses out on deck. 

Damn little we knew of the answers in those days ten years ago. We knew 
the world was wrong and talked a lot about it. It was all groping. 

We searched in books for a philosophy that would enable us to take the 
world smugly as it was. But ever we came upon paragraphs and stanzas that 
blasted idle philosophy — like the lines of John Davidson. 

"lfs a naked child against a hungry wolf; 
It's playing bowls upon a splitting wreck; 
It's walking on a string across a gulf 
With millstones fore and aft about your neck; 
But the thing is daily done by many and many a one; 
And we fall face forward fighting on the deck." 

You settled down and married and had children. I went to another city. 
Men who groped together in their youth don't separate easily. Correspondence 
and .exchange of ideas linked us together. 

I discovered the cause of labor first, and poured out my enthusiasm in 
long letters. 

I remember your reply. You were genuinely worried. You said I was losing 
my sense of humor, and surrendering to a label and a futile cause. 

You were really worried. You sent me the money to pay you a visit and 
be talked back into my senses. 

When I arrived on your doorstep, it was the first time we'd seen each 
other in years. We talked far into the night — all night. Bottles emptied and 
ash trays became pyramids. 

The next morning you were seeing a new world. 

There are no better comrades imaginable than the ones we are marching 
with today. But you, bf God, I marched with ever since I can remember, 
through the worst slews of ignorance and confusion. 

You are the rottenest pool player I ever saw, and a chump with a bowling 
ball — but they don't make better comrades. 

Stand your long, cold watch, Comrade. You won't let them pass. I know 
that. Your kids are tucked in warm beds here, and are cared for by people 

63 



who love them. They know you are fighting Fascism in Spain, trying to see 
that the bombs and idiocy never reach them. A million Spanish children, like 
your own, look to you and your comrades to protect their future. 

I take particular note of the paragraph in your letter — "For God's sake, 
Mike, tell the comrades to support the Friends of the Lincoln Battalion. 
American cigarets are the most valuable things we have here, and without 
the Friends of the Lincoln Battalion there wouldn't be any." 

And — "You are the children's God-father and responsible for their edu : 
cation. In other words, I am expecting you to see to it they grow up to be 
good Marxists." 

May every dirty fascist bullet miss you, Fritz. A^d may you return to your 
comrades here — and the struggle in America. ) 



HOW MUCH FOR SPAIN? 



The long collection speech is done 

And now the felt hat goes 
From hand to hand its solemn way 

Along the restless rows. 
In purse and pocket, fingers feel 

And count the coins by touch. 
Minds ponder what they can afford 

And hesitate . . . how much? 
In that brief, jostled moment when 

The battered hat arrives, 
Try, brother, to remember that 

Some men put in their lives. 

March 28, 1938 
Maybe I seem excessively proud of Fritz, and there is no doubt more than 
a little bragging in the way I repeatedly call attention to the fact that he is 
my best friend and has been since we were in our 'teens. I can't help it. He 
has just gone through his "baptism of fire," was ci&d for heroism and made 
Political Commissar of his company. 

He writes: "Much has happened since I last wrote. As you know, we left 
for the front again and are now there, as the cracking of a bullet over my 
head just reminded me. I am lying in a 'fox-hole' on top of a table land with 
a chap from Oakland. It is about eight in the morning. A cloudy day but 

64 



still good for Avion. It is cold as hell and snow covers the ground in patches. 
The fascists are on another ridge about 600 metres away and in a town in the 
valley beyond. We have information they are to attack with everything they 
have. This spot is apparently one of their concentration points in their long- 
awaited offensive. 

"This is the fourth day of our battle here, and believe me I am one 
exhausted hombre. Fight all day, dig all night — what a life for a sane man! 

"Next day, before dawn, we got into our holes again. Rifle and machine 
gun fire started with the first streak of light. The fascists gave it everything 
they had without success. They laid down an artillery barrage that seemed 
to have destroyed everything along that ridge, but still our troops held on." 

They held on for seven days, lying in the cold mud with scarcely any 
food or water. It was one of the really heroic achievements of the war. But, 
as you see from his letter, they didn't know it. It was their first encounter. 
They didn't know but what their actions were the usual thing. 

His letter was written at intervals during those seven days. In one place 
it reads: "Later, 4:45 p.m. It is now sunset and a beauty such as only Spain 
can have. The slanting rays of the falling sun lighting up the distant snow- 
covered hills. The low drifting clouds, black on one side and brilliant with 
color on the other. The only interruption is an occasional burst of machine gun 
fire, or the sound of eggs being laid in the distance. We have spent the whole 
day crouched in our hole, cold, and particularly now, thirsty. I have had no 
water since ten o'clock last night, so you can imagine. 

"I lost my canteen the day of the attack, which makes things difficult. 
Also, today, to my great dismay, I discovered I had lost my glasses. If I can't 
get my others fixed, I won't be of much value as a rifleman." 

His oculist in San Francisco made him a new pair which were forwarded 
to his wife, Peggy, who is in Paris working with a welfare committee for 
Spanish children. Joe North, the Daily Worker correspondent, is taking them 
with him into Spain. 

March 30, 1938 

Here is the most recent letter Fritz wrote from Spain: 

"Our Company Commissar had a bum knee which was continually going 
out of joint. He was sent to hospital, so I had to step into his shoes — a hell 
of a responsibility with a ranking equal to Company Commander. 

"Yesterday one of our best men, a chap who has been in the marines, was 
hit in the foot by an anti-tank shell. Naturally, his foot was gone and he was 
pretty thoroughly banged up. It was part of my job to see that he was welt 
cared for, so I decided to ride back to the hospital in the ambulance with him. 

"I have never seen such courage in any man. He knew he had lost his 
foot and possibly his leg. He was in terrific pain, yet he smoked and smiled 

65 



and joked with me, saying he hoped to get some ham and eggs at the hospital, 
and telling me not to bother about getting him another pair of shoes. Well, 
you can imagine my feelings and how my hatred of fascism increased to the 
boiling point. . . . 

"On the way home, we were spotted in a little valley by the fascist 
artillery, who started shelling us. The driver stepped on the gas and away 
we whizzed with shells bursting all around. However, no harm was done, 
and I returned to my company feeling like a real veteran. 

"The driver, incidently, had to turn around immediately and take another 
load back. I certainly didn't envy him, and from now on my hat is off to the 
ambulance drivers." ""\ 

This letter was written from Teruel at the time when the Loyalists were 
occupying it. He says: "The crime of war is brought home when you see the 
devastation created in this beautiful little city. It is one of the old walled 
cities, but what a wreck now! Oddly enough, there are also many modern 
homes here of the latest type, but most of these, being in the wealthier part 
of town, have been spared the fascist bombs. Most of the city will have to be 
rebuilt. But if they follow the example of Madrid, it won't take long. There 
they usually start repairs the day after a building is bombed. What courage 
and optimism! 

"Day before yesterday I had my first chance to really look over the city 
and examine the destruction. It made me sick at heart, particularly because 
I am an incurable romanticist, I guess. Here were personal treasures — worth- 
less momentoes — strewn about, showing the tremendous break in the lives 
}f the persons involved. How you hate war and fascism when you meet them 
it first hand. Cities can be rebuilt. But these broken lives will never be the 
ame." 

People's World column, Nov. 15, 1938 

On about March 12th of this year Fritz Orton died a hero's death at 
Belchite. His platoon was trapped on a hillside and he was slain while 
attempting to lead them to safety, by fascist tanks. . . . 

There was nothing of the soldier about him. He was warm, human, kindly. 
He had a contagious good nature that spread to everything around him. If 
you were giving a party, you hoped he'd come. If you heard a good story you 
were anxious to tell it to him because his appreciation and response would 
be unequalled. I do not know of any man living who has more people indebted 
to him in a practical, personal way. He was my pal since he was fifteen years 
old and in all that time I never saw an instance of where he encountered a 
human being in trouble that he didn't help to the extent he was able. If you 

66 



wanted money, he'd loan it to you. If you couldn't pay it back, he'd give it to 
you. If you wanted a lift, he'd drive forty miles out of his way to drop you 
off. If you needed a place to stay, there was always a couch in his house. 

Before he died he was cited for bravery. 

Months after Fritz was killed, a letter ^drifted in to the People's World 
office. It had been over a year in transit. It was like a voice from beyond the 
grave. It was written in 1937 when the financial drive was on to launch a 
people's daily newspaper. The letter was written on a cheap tablet of note- 
paper which absorbed and blurred the green ink from his fountain pen. It 
read: 

"Many of the Comrades in Company 1 of the Lincoln-Washington Bat- 
talion feel that this time we're rather out of things. We are a bit unhappy to 
be inactive in this, the most important drive the paper has ever participated 
in. Therefore, when we saw the appeal, we felt we must be in on the success 
of this drive. So we decided to send in our small contribution. We are enclos- 
ing ten dollars, which represents approximately 165 pesetas, or a little better 
than two days' pay for the dozen comrades included. We realize that it isn't 
much money in America, but it represents quite a lot here. At any rate, we 
feel we are doing our small part. 

"While I am writing, let me urge you to press the campaign for aid to 
Spanish democracy and the Friends of the Lincoln Battalion. We realize that 
you at home have many important campaigns and also that it is hard to main- 
tain a sustained tempo over an extended period, yet we here fighting in the 
trenches know the importance of the struggle. Spare no efforts in your support 
of Spain. If the Fascists win here it will be much harder to keep democracy 
at home. , B T 



DOC ADAMS' NOSE 



(People's World, January, 1938) 1 

From a friend in Honolulu comes a clipping out of an island newspaper 
with the request that I answer it. It is a column titled "This and That" by 
Doc Adams. You could reasonably say that Doc Adams is the Westbrook 
Pegler of the tropics. It seems, wherever you find shoes you find heels. Here 
is the answer to his column: 

Doc Adams' nose is his nose, and he isn't going to stick it into anybody 
else's business — much less anybody else's war. 

67 



Having expressed such a philosophy, he then proceeded to stick that very 
nose into that very Spanish civil war which he suggests we keep our noses 
out of. 

Having got his nose into it, he blew it, and it sounded very much like a 
cavalry charge. 

Doc didn't go out of his way looking for trouble. It came to him. Wars 
have a way of doing that. 

A young lady whom he describes as "charming and apparently sincere" 
came into his office and asked him for a contribution to help the American 
boys fighting in the ranks of Loyalist Spairi. 

There is something very beautiful abouta\ charming young lady in far 
away tropical islands soliciting funds to buy cigarets for the boys fighting in 
the midst of a blizzard at Teruel. But it didn't impress Doc Adams that way. 
He refused. 

Doc Adams should have refused. He knows very little about the war in 
Spain and professes no particular sympathy for either side. 

A man would be foolish to contribute money to a cause about which he 
knew little and cared less. 

If the matter ended there — where it should have ended — no one would 
have more to say about it. Doc Adams would be left to decay in the peaceful 
oblivion of his ignorance. But peculiarly enough, the request of the "charm- 
ing and apparently sincere" young lady festered in the Doc's brain and gave 
rise to a column. 

He is outraged by the circumstance of American boys fighting in Loyalist 
ranks. He describes them as "busybodies" and suggests that their motive is 
the sheer love of killing. And he was equally displeased by the practice of 
soliciting money for their welfare, even by "charming and apparently sincere" 
ladies. 

Declares Doc Adams, the Pegler of Hawaii: "I think that if fewer Amer- 
icans, French, English, Italians, and others were messing around in Spain that 
wretched nation would be a damsite better off and the war would be that 
much sooner over." 

This statement is as true in essence as it is false in logic. I don't believe 
there is anything dishonest about Doc Adams when he makes it. I believe 
he means well. 

Doc Adams possibly does not realize that Spain is being invaded by the 
fascist armies of Italy and Germany — that were it not for this circumstance, 
no Americans, Frenchmen, or Englishmen would go or need to go to the 
assistance of the Spanish Loyalists. 

The issue being fought out in Spain is near and dear to all that is fine 
in America — democracy. The Spanish people elected their own government. 

68 



The aristocrats, millionaires and military generals rebelled. Too few in num- 
bers to defeat the will of the people, they brought in Moors from Africa, 
Nazis from Germany, Black Shirts from Italy. 

Some Americans who understand what is at stake in Spain are willing to 
give their lives in that cause. Others are willing to give money. Those who 
know nothing of it and have no feeling in the matter — men like Doc Adams — 
naturally will give nothing. 

Doc Adams perhaps forgets that he was once young. Like most men who 
established themselves in the writing profession, he probably once possessed 
a live, virulent, young brain that valued justice, took a strong interest in the 
world about him, loved his fellow men — their feelings, dreams, needs, 
struggles. 

I doubt if Doc Adams ever misses a meal, and his bed is probably as 
comfortable as any. But Doc Adams, in his heart, could well envy the vitality 
and sensitive mind of my dearest friend, Fritz Orton, who just fought in the 
battle of Teruel, and whom I hope to God came through all right. 

It may be Doc Adams' fate and nature to relax in smugness. But it is 
neither good sense nor good taste for him to advocate it. 

Doc Adams can be grateful that it was a "charming and apparently sin- 
cere" young lady soliciting cigaret money for the boys in Spain. He can be 
grateful it was not the war itself. And if the menace of world war does skip 
Doc Adams' doorstep, he can thank my friend in Spain, and all the millions 
like him. 

I do not know what kind of newspaperman Doc Adams is. I do not know 
if he is a member of the American Newspaper Guild. But the newspapermen 
of America respect and love the memory of Ben Leider, that splendid brother 
who gave his life as an aviator in the cause of Loyalist Spain. 

He was not a busybody. His miad was beautiful, not smug. And if Doc 
Adams ever comes to the mainland, he had better be careful about calling 
men like Ben and Fritz sadistic killers. 



69 



REQUIESCAT 



They are not buried very deep; 

Their bodies may be found 

Beneath a slender covering 

Of Spanish ground. 

A shallow trench, a last salute, 

A blanket of fresh dug earth, 

And a man we lived and laughed with 

Is lodged in his final beyth. 

The wind, the rain, the winding road, 

The tramp of marching feet. 

Our hearts will hold his memory 

As long as our hearts shall beat. 

Tonight a shroud of snow will fall. 

In Autumn leaves will pass 

Across the grave; and Spring will heal 

The ground with blades of grass. 

Sleep, dearest Comrade, sleep and know 

This hard-won bit of earth 

Will know a better kind of life 

Because you gave it birth. 

A race of free-born people dwell 

Where fell October's dead* 

And no less happy life shall bless 

The ground above your head. 

Our feet march on. Our hands are pledged. 

Your great goal shall be won. 

All men shall stand erect and laugh 

Together in the sun. 

* In the Soviet Union, where the October Revolution (1917) freed the people 
from Czarist and capitalist rule, and where the only Socialist system exists. 



70 



BITTER HARVEST 

("Voice of Labor' Radio Broadcast, January, 1939) 

Before starting our review of labor news, we pause to give recognition 
and tribute to the bravest human struggle for democracy and justice this earth 
has ever seen — not excepting our own American Revolution of 1776. We refer 
to the men, women and children of Barcelona. 

Surrounded by Moors, Italians, Germans, and the solitary authentic division 
of Spanish troops in Franco's army, menaced above by giant bombers, deserted 
by most of Spain's sister democracies, the people of Barcelona are preparing 
to make their last gallant stand in the streets of their city. 

No hope of mercy lies ahead for the trade unionists who are preparing 
to die fighting. The unions have been ruthlessly crushed and their leaders 
killed wherever the invading armies of fascism have marched. 

May we call your attention to the fact that the United States has not yet 
lifted the unjust embargo that permits a free flow of arms to the fascist 
invaders and chokes off supplies for the defenders of democracy! 

While you sit listening to this program tonight, those men and women 
of Barcelona are marching out to die. Not to take a chance. Not to run a 
risk. But to die. 

They have not surrendered, and it ill behooves anyone sitting in a com- 
fortable home, thousands of miles away, to surrender for them. If Fianco 
takes that city, he'll have to take it house by house, street by street, for those 
people know that there is little to choose between death and fascism. 

Many generations have passed since our Valley Forge. In that most 
desolate hour of our struggle, people in Europe were blithely surrendering 
for us, dismissing our cause as hopeless. But we did not surrender. 

Spain is experiencing her Valley Forge. The common people are turning 
out to face the well- trained legions of Nazi and Italian fascist invaders. 

We'll all pay dearly if the Spanish people lose that struggle. And some 
day, when we hear the roar of bombing planes above, when we clutch our 
children to us and crowd down the stairways to crouch and tremble in the 
basement, we might be reminding ourselves: 

This could have been stopped in Spain! 

They asked for arms to defend themselves. We turned our backs and left 
them to die fighting with their bar hands. We threw Spain like a child to the 
wolves. It was "appeasement." Now we have no more children to feed them, 
and the wolves are howling at our own door. 



71 



The Virus Works at Home 
SHIRTS OF A SINGLE COLOR 

(A short story by Paul Ryan, Direction, August, 1938) 

This night he ate like an ogre. He tore the buns violently, buttered the 
jagged halves in two swipes, crammed food into his mouth, and chewed vigor- 
ously; He finished off his coffee in a single gulp, thumped the cup back onto 
the saucer* pushed back his chair, flung down his napkin and stamped off 
into the bedroom. 

His wife followed him almost timidly. She had hardly eaten anything. She 
was experiencing a new husband — one she had never seen before. She had 
noticed the difference as she watched from the window and saw him coming 
down the street toward the house, shoulders squared, striding vigorously. Her 
first thought was that he had found a job. She was almost sure of it when 
doit caught the excited glint in his eyes. She felt her own emotions rise to meet 
his. Her heart beat gladly and eagerly for the first time in months. Always 
she had watched from the window and read the disappointment of the day 
in her husband's walk, in the slight sagging of his shoulders and the way 
he held the rolled up newspaper in his hand with the want ad section turned 
outward. He would come into the house quietly, very tired, and she would 
not ask him the question that held her mind all day. Tonight her eyes, bright 
and wide, asked the question as she flung open the door. 

She did not understand him when he told her. She felt her emotions retreat 
away from him. There was a mingled sickness and fear in her sudden dis- 
appointment, as in the sudden descent of an unexpectedly swift elevator. No 
job. He didn't seem to care. All thought of a job was drowned in the excite- 
ment that possessed him. Action! He was electrified with the idea of action. 
Something to do with his hands. Something definite and moving to be a part 
of. 

In the bedroom he was flinging things about in the bottom drawer of the 
bureau. "Where's that grey shirt of mine, Helen?" 

"I don't know. What grey shirt?" . 

"The grey flannel one I wore up at the camp. We're all going to wear 
grey shirts. Where is it?" 

"Oh Jim! It's in the chest. Not there. I'll get it." She kneeled and rum- 
maged in a cedar chest under the window. 

72 



"We're all going to wear grey shirts," he repeated, stripping off his shirt. 
"Later on they'll get us uniforms." 

"Who'll get you uniforms, Jim?" 

"The guys who are backing it. There are some pretty big shots in back 
of this, Helen. It's a big thing. In two or three months it will be all over the 
country. It's something we should have had long ago. It's about time Amer- 
icans began to show what they are made of. That's it. Thanks." 

She handed him the grey shirt. 

"Are you sure, Jim,, that this is just the right thing? Wouldn't it be better 
if you waited and found out a little more about it? You remember Harvey — 
he was a radical and he had a brilliant mind. He said — " 

"Harvey was just a smart-alec, know it all kid. If he had just half as 
much brains as he tried to make people think he had he'd amount to some- 
thing today. If you want this country overrun by a bunch of foreigners and 
niggers and irresponsible radicals — if they don't like this country, why don't 
they go back where they came from?" 

She was picking up his clothes and shaking them out as he threw them 
here and there in his fury of undressing and dressing. 

"Yes, but Jim; that isn't the point. You know — " 

"Yes, I know. I know. And if I have brains enough to go out and make 
a little something I should give half of it to some guy who sits around on his 
flat and does nothing. Please, Helen — you don't know anything about these 
things. Get me my black tie, will you? I have to hurry. We're all going to 
wear black ties." 

She began to finger through his ties, all worn, wrinkled and threadbare. 
It called her back to intimate, personal matters and made her think that his 
clothes were getting shabby and that he would have less chance of getting a 
job when his appearance was run down. 

"Where is this meeting, Jim?" 

"It's down in the factory part of town in an old barn of a ramshackle hall. 
They're a bunch of reds holding a meeting there and we're going to bust it up. 
This shirt don't fit me much anymore. It must be shrunk." 

"But Jim, how do you know what might happen? You don't know what 
kind of men are down there. They might have guns." 

"Guns, huh! We'll show them who's going to have guns in this country. 
They haven't any guns. You can be sure of that. And if they did have they 
wouldn't have them long." 

She turned from the tie rack and saw that he had taken his Colt revolver 
from the bureau drawer and was whirling the cylinder with his finger. 

"Jim! You're not going to take that. Jim, that isn't right." 

"Now don't worry, Helen. For the love of heaven stand by me." His voice 

73 



became rough as he saw the tears glisten in her eyes. "Show me you've got 
some guts. That's what this country needs is guts. There are too many people 
weeping around like whipped dogs. Are we Americans or aren't we? Look 
at Germany. They're not slinking around like a bunch of hounds; they're 
marching with their heads up in brown shirts. Look at Italy. They're not lying 
on their bellies." 

"Oh Jim! I don't know anything about these things. But it doesn't seem 
right. I can't feel it. I'd feel it if it was right, Jim. I know I would. Jim! Mr. 
Baldwin was around today about the rent. He — " 

'Tor God's sake don't get hysterical^ Jim shouted loudly and there was 
Instant quiet. Helen's face looked frightened. They felt their mutual excite- 
ment die away in the quiet. He spoke very softly. "My nerves are all on edge. 
I'm sorry. I've been going through hell these past months. You've got to trust 
me and stand back of me. As for Baldwin, don't worry about him. Hitchcock 
will take care of him. Hitchcock owns the tractor works and the foundries and 
the steel mills. He's the biggest man around here and absolutely on the level. 
He owns almost the whole town. He says real Americans have got to stick 
together and stand back to back. Our country's in a crisis. He's going to get 
leniency on rents for the whole outfit and when he starts putting men back 
to work, it'll be grey shirts who'll get the first jobs." 

"Is Mr. Hitchcock the leader?" she asked. 

"No. He hasn't got anything to do with it. He's just backing us out of 
patriotism." He slipped on a shoulder strap holster and fitted the gun into it 
She watched him with wide eyes. 

"Who is this man Mason?" 

"He's the local organizer. We're going to meet at his house and go down 
in automobiles." 

"Jim! Are you sure they're reds? What is it they're trying to do?" 

"What are they trying to do? They want to overthrow the United States 
Government, that's what they want to do. They've been organizing strikes 
among the factory hands, telling them to refuse to move out of their houses 
when they can't pay their rent, telling them to demand higher wages and 
free food from the city, telling them they ought to own the whole country 
and no man own anything, They're a bunch of Atheists and don't believe in 
the Bible. They're trying to stir up a revolution." 

"Jim! Don't kill anyone. Please don't kill anyone. Please leave the gun 
here." 

He threw back his head and laughed. 

She stood in the doorway and watched him disappear down the dark street. 
His shoulders were square and he affected a military stride. His heels clicked 
smartly on the pavement. She heard their echo long after he had passed from 

74 



sight. Then she closed the door. She saw the newspaper lying on the floor. 
She read the headlines from where she stood: POWERS DEADLOCKED AT 
ARMS PARLEY. It didn't make sense. None of it made sense. Something 
was going on, she didn't know what. She felt alone in her ignorance. She 
stood in the center of the room as if in the center of the universe in which 
things were happening beyond her comprehension. 



THE MARCH OF SCIENCE 



{Reprinted from Dangerous Thoughts)' 

The greatest scientists and inventors of all time were gathered in the ante- 
room of the richest man in the world. As they sat there, clutching their brief- 
cases and drumming their fingers on the arms of the chairs, a simple little 
man in a derby hat entered and chose a seat in the far corner. His pants were 
frayed and there were spots on his vest. In one hand he carried an umbrella 
and in the other something wrapped in a piece of newspaper. His eyes, timid 
and melancholy, looked at the world through the thick lenses of gold-rimmed 
glasses. 

One of the great men cleared his throat and addressed his fellows: "I 
have perfected," he said, "a cannon which can shoot half way round the world. 
It discharges a projectile which combines all the best features of concussion, 
shrapnel, poison gas and liquid fire. When the shell explodes, it tears a hole 
in the earth one mile in circumference and exudes lethal fumes and molten 
liquids that will destroy everything within a radius of fifty miles." 

"Very interesting," said another distinguished scientist. "Personally I have 
here the design of a new type of torpedo. It not only propels through the water 
like a fish, but can fly in the air like a bird or run along the ground like an 
animal. It is directed by an electric 'smeller' which makes it a veritable infernal 
bloodhound pursuing the enemy wheresoever he may try to flee." 

"Not bad," said still another of the brilliant men. "Not bad at all. For 
my part, I have here the formulas for eighty-seven different kinds of gasses. 
These fumes may be shot out of guns, dropped as bombs, sprayed from 
nozzles or poured like water. They will rot any known type of protective 
clothing from a man's body in an instant and produce incurable ulcers over 
the entire skin surface. Other types will penetrate any gas mask and literally 
melt the flesh away, leaving clean white skeletons standing in uniform." 

"All these things are useful in their way," said another great inventor, 

75 



"but extremely elemental. It is my belief that man must summon his greatest 
ally, Nature, to his aid in time of war. With this in view I have made an 
exhaustive study of the earth's geography. I find that by the application of 
explosives in the correct places and in large enough quantities, I can produce 
earthquakes or natural disasters in any given area. For instance, one thousand 
tons of T.N.T. dropped at a certain spot in the Pacific Ocean and exploded 
by electric wires from a safe distance would cause a tidal wave to sweep over 
the whole of Japan, wiping out every living thing as cleanly as if you had rinsed 
out the sink. ( 

: "On the other hand, a mere 50(Tfons of T.N.T. exploded in the correct 
place in the Atlantic Ocean would cause the British Isles to sink into the 
depths, leaving nothing but a few floating marmalade crates to mark the spot." 

At this juncture, the modest little man in the frayed coat got up and 
started to leave quietly. 

"Hold on there," said one of the great men. "Aren't you going to wait to 
see the boss?" 

"I hardly think it will be worth while," said the little man. 
*. "Come, come, now" blustered the learned man. "Your modesty may be 
concealing great things. What have you there in that package?" 

The little man sighed wistfully and looked down at the paper wrappings. 
"Alas!" he said. "It is a simple little safety device to prevent ordinary house- 
hold accidents." 



MURPHY AND O'BRIEN: 
ON ALIENS 

{Reprinted from Dangerous Thoughts) 

"And what," asked Mr. O'Brien, "are we to do about the alien in our 
midst? 'Tis a distressing problem indeed." 

"Would it not be wiser for you to take a bath," asked Mr. Murphy, "before 
you start worrying about the alien in our midst?" 

"And what has that to do with it?" 

"Because," continued Murphy, "you still have enough of the soil of 
Ireland in your ears to raise a nourishing crop of potatoes." 

"I am as good an American citizen as the next man, Murphy. Besides, 
since when is Irish blood a thing to be ashamed of?" 

" 'Tis nothing to be ashamed of. But only last night I was invited by a 

76 



Jew to a banquet in a Chinese restaurant to celebrate the birthday of a Swede. 
And we were all American citizens as good as the next fellow." 

"And what has that to do with the alien in our midst?" 

"Just this, O'Brien, 'tis not the alien who is in our midst, but we who 
are amidst the alien." 

"Meaning what?" 

"Do you know, O'Brien, that one-third of the population of San Francisco 
is foreign bom?" 

"You don't say." 

"And did you know that two-thirds of the population, are either foreign 
born or of foreign born parentage?" 

"You don't tell me." 

"I do tell you." 

"But it says here in the paper, Murphy, that the alien in our midst is a 
most distressing problem and we must pass laws against him. They speak of 
him as some sort of criminal." 

"If there are criminal aliens among us, O'Brien, we have laws to deal with 
them. Indeed, crime is against the law for citizens as well as aliens." 

"Then to whom are they referring?" 

"To simple, honest people who want to work and raise families and who 
never did harm to anyone." 

"And why should we legislate against them, Murphy?" 

" 'Tis a mean and unworthy trick, O'Brien. The people are sorely distressed 
nowadays, and by raising the cry of alien they would fan the dirtiest prejudices 
and side-track the people from thinking about their real problems." 

"But isn't it true Murphy, that there are too many people in the country 
as it is, and that is why so many of us have no jobs?*' 

"Indeed, O'Brien, the country is scarcely populated. We have almost two 
billion acres of land for 130 million people. If we divided it all up and each 
man stood in the middle of his plot, we would each of us be surrounded by 
14 acres of land. We have the food and resources to support many times our 
population." 

"Then I fail to see where is all the trouble." 

"We must figure a way to organize it all so there will be work and food 
and a bit of comfort for all of us." 

"Including the alien?" 

"Forget the alien. We are all of us the children of aliens. I sometimes 
think if the children could have arrived first, they would have met their 
parents on the docks and driven them into the sea with clubs." 

"Perhaps you're right, Murphy." 

"It ill behooves a great and democratic people to vent its hatred against a 

77 



few honest families just because they got through the door a little later than 
us. If you deported all the aliens tomorrow it would benefit no one. Indeed, 
O'Brien, if our problems could be solved by the various nationalities persecut- 
ing, abusing and beating each other over the heads, the world would be 
Utopia by this time." 

"Perhaps, Murphy, we should try a bit of friendliness and cooperation 
since all this hostility has failed." 

" Tis the ultimate solution, O'Brien. But there are men who are not in 
favor of such things." 

"And why not, may I ask?" ) 

"There's no money in it, O'Brien." 



THE MUGITY WUMPUS 



(Reprinted from More Dangerous Thoughts) 

Arriving back in America after an absence of 15 years or more, Dr. Emory 
Hornsnagle was surprised by a strange creature approaching him along the 
road. At first he took it to be a weird animal or land bird of the emu or cas- 
sowary variety. It waddled clumsily on four legs and had a large, plum-like 
tail protruding from the rear. 

As it drew nearer, he perceived it to be a man crawling on his hands and 
knees. His hair had been shaved off and his head was painted blue. His body 
was encircled by red stripes. What looked like a tail was a long stick decorated 
with streamers of colored paper and bearing a placard: I LOVE CAPITALISM. 

As the man crawled, he muttered over and over: "I am not a Communist. 
I am not a Communist. I am not a Communist." 

"Then what are you?" asked Dr. Hornsnagle. 

The creature took one look at Hornsnagle, then turned around and began 
to crawl away as rapidly as its hands and knees could carry it. 

Hornsnagle quickly lassoed it by one leg and tied it to a tree. "Now there 
is no reason for you to be frightened," he said. "I am not going to hurt you. 
As a scientist I would like to know what you are." 

"Let me go," begged the creature. "If I am seen talking to you I will get 
in trouble." 

"Why should you get in trouble for talking to me?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"Because you are a Communist," whined the creature. 

"Nonsense," said Hornsnagle. "What makes you think that?" 

"Because," said the creature, "there is nothing about you to indicate you 

78 



are not. If you were not a Communist you would certainly do something to 
indicate you were not. As for myself, you can see at a glance I am no Com- 
munist." 

"Just what is a Communist?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"I don't know," replied the creature, "but you certainly could not accuse 
me ©f feeing one." 

"But crawling on your hands and knees," said Hornsnagle, "and that, er — 
tail — isn't it ail somewhat inconvenient?" 

'" The creature broke into tears,~ahd Dr. Hornsnagle kindly loaned it his 
handkerchief. 

"I used to walk erect," it said, "and speak my mind freely. It all started 
when they brought that resolution into the union." 
'"What resolution?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"The resolution against communism," said the creature. "It was discovered 
that many of our members had Communistic books and literature in their 

homes." 

- 

*'$o what did you do?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"We expelled them," said the creature, "and the rest of us burned our 
libraries to make absolutely sure." 

"Did that convince them?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"No. They said our officials were Communistic. So we expelled them too 
and elected new ones who were highly praised in the newspapers as reasonable 
and patriotic." 

"What happened then?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"Then we stopped holding meetings," said the creature. "There was 
nothing to meet about anyhow. It was impossible to make any demand or 
conduct any business without being called Communistic. Later we disbanded 
the union altogether." 

"Didn't that convince them?" asked Hornsnagle. 

The creature shook its head sadly. "No indeed. Employers made a rule 
to employ only the most non-Communistic workers who would work for the 
lowest wages. Everybody began to outdo each other in being non-Communistic. 
Some of them began to crawl, and pretty soon no one could get a job at all 
if he didn't crawl. Then one thing followed another. The tail piece was thought 
up by William Green." 

"Why don't you stand up and tell them to go to hell?" asked Dr. Horns- 
nagle. 

"That would be impossible," said the creature. 

"And why so?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"Because," said the ereature, "that would be Communistic." 

80 



Thunder Over Europe 



IRONIC REQUEST 



{From the People's World, March, 1939)" 

After twenty years of reporting the collapse of Soviet Russia, the Hearst 
papers came out last Saturday with the headline: POWERS SEEK RUSSIAN 
AID TO SAVE ROUMANIA. 




people are sorely oppr< 
*so undisciplined and unreliable that they dare not give them bullets. 

It is apparent by this time that none of that is true. 

The fact that the "powers" in question should be seeking the aid of anyone 
is ironic. That they should seek it from Russia is a matter of crawling on their 
hands and knees. 

We recall that Ethiopia once asked for aid from the League of Nations/ ; 
and all the support she got came from Maxim Litvinov the Soviet delegate. 1 1 
We recall that both Spain and Czechoslovakia cried desperately for aid and I J 
the only voice that answered was that of Soviet Russia. 

Roumania, incidentally, has been telling its people for twenty years that 
the Soviets are cruel, dangerous and despicable. Roumania borders on the 
Soviet Union and there used to be three countries between her and Germany. 
Yet the threat of aggression comes .from Germany, not the Soviets. 

After twenty years of anti-Soviet propaganda it might sorely confuse the 
Roumanian population to have strong, singing legions of Russian youth 
marching through their streets to defend them. 

It is important to think about these things. No country of the earth has 
received so much adverse publicity in the press as the Soviet Union. There has 
been an over-anxiousness to convince us that she is bad and a menace to 
mankind. 

Many years ago, this was what first attracted my attention to the Soviets. 
I was absorbed in my own personal affairs and ambitions and honestly not 
interested in Russia. But the thing was banged at me so much and with such 
desperate eagerness to arouse hatred in me against her that I had to take 
notice of it. I wanted to understand this menace. Apparently, according to the 
articles, a small clique of men had seized control of the largest country of the 

81 



earth and were butchering, torturing, enslaving and starving the populace. I 
wanted to know what their object was. 

I read all the Soviet-haters had to say and could find not a single clue to 
the motive. To accept their contentions I would have to believe that a very 
small number of men had contracted an unusual madness and aspired to 
making the entire world miserable. 

Naturally I read other opinions and soon discovered that all the Russians 
had done was socialize the means of production, a thing that I knew would 
someday have to be done in America if civilization was to progress at all. 

Some people harbor such a blind, stupid hatred against the Soviets that 
it is almost impossible to reason with them. Yet even they will have to admit 
that of all the nations of the earth she has caused us the least trouble. Our 
troubles have come from a collapse of economy in the capitalist states and the 
aggressiveness of Germany, Italy and Japan, all highly capitalistic countries. 
From nations that have been troubled so little by communism, comes an extra- 
ordinary amount of raving against it. 

During the height of the after-war prosperity the Soviet economists pre- 
dicted a great depression. The capitalist economists laughed at them. The 
depression came. Boy, oh boy, how it came! 

The Soviets predicted Japan's invasion of China and Germany's present 
aggressions. Capitalist statesmen ridiculed them. Yet today we read the head- 
line: POWERS SEEK RUSSIAN AID TO SAVE ROUMANIA. 

It's not so much Roumania "the powers" are worried about as the fact 
that if Germany gets the rich Roumanian oil and wheat fields and cattle herds 
she might change her mind about attacking strong, united Russia and turn 
her guns against the jittery democracies. 

So far, Germany's series of "conquests" have been like fixed prize fights. 
If Poland, Roumania and Jugo-Slavia get sense enough to stand up against 
him, Hitler may meet his Joe Louis and go the way of Max Schmeling. 

The idea of international capitalists was to maneuver Germany up to the 
Russian border and sic them on the Sov/ets. Italy is supposed to support them 
and Japan is to attack from the East, '^hen all these nations have exhausted 
themselves in warfare, Britain and France are supposed to step in and make 
peace on their own terms. When Chamberlain and Daladier signed the Munich 
pact, Poland and Roumania were flushed down the drain with Czechoslovakia. 
Now two main questions arise. 

1. — Will Poland, Roumania and Jugo-Slavia have sense enough to unite 
against Germany? 

2. — Suppose they don't and Hitler gets Roumania. Will he carry out the 
bargain and engage in a suicidal war against Russia, or will he seek easier 
loot in other directions?, 

82 



These questions account for the jittered speeches of Chamberlain and the 
fact that Daladier's eyes look like oysters floating in a milk stew. The whole 
idea was to blast the Soviet Union off the map. But now none of them know 
where the charge is buried and they're all afraid to light the fuse. 



WHY DON'T YOU LAUGH? 

Now that you've crushed the little Jew 

Shut down his shop, 

Insulted his wife 

And broken his violin; 

Why aren't you happy, Germany? 

Why don't you sing and dance? 

The Jew is gone. 

The jew who still remain 

Crawl painfully on hands and knees. 

You have rubbed their noses in the dirt 

And spit upon their children. 

Aren't you proud? 

Aren't you free? 

Weren't the Jews your oppressors? 

Aren't you a strong, united race? 

You husky, brown- shifted men 

Who crashed down the door 

Of the little Jewish doctor, 

Slapped his wife and raped his daughter, 

Made him crawl in the mud on his hands and knees- 

What's the matter with you, Germany? 

Why don't you laugh? 

You have liberated yourself from the Jews, 

The little Jew who fiddled for you 

In the beer garden — , 

He'll oppress you no more. 

You beat him to death in a concentration camp. 

That old lady who sold pretzels on the corner — 

She'll oppress you no more. 

83 



She died of a broken heart, 

The old Jewish tailor sitting cross-legged 

On his table — 

You need fear him no more. 

His old bones couldn't stand your bravery. 

Dance, Germany, dance! 

Dance upon the graves of your oppressors! 

You took an -oM^.Jew out in the back alley 

And flogged him to death 

Until his agony echoed 

Around the world. 

Now where are you, Germany? 

And ivhat have you solved? 

What put that grey look in your eyes? 

That grey uniform on your son? 

That grey helmet on his head? 

What makes you a nation of grey, Silent people? 

What makes you afraid to answer? 

Not even the grave is more silent 

Than lips that fear to speak. 

You stand there all burdened with cartridges 

And hand grenades dangling from your belt, 

With grey fear and shame looking from your eyes. 

No other present than fear, 

No other future than murder. 

It can't be the few, for the few is dead 

And your boots are stained with his blood. 

But tell me, Germany, 

Who is responsible for your troubles now? 



84 



THE UMBRELLA MAN'S 
CONSTERNATION 

(People's World, September, 1939) 

"So your Communists and your Nazis turned out to be birds of one 
feather," said Mr. O'Brien. "What have you got to say now? Am I laughing. 
Murphy! Am I laughing!" 

"No you are not," said Mr. Murphy. "You are making a noise like an 
epileptic baboon." 

"Squirm, Murphy, squirm. I have waited a long time for this/' 

"The creation of such joy in one human soul makes it a worthy deed in an 
unhappy world, O'Brien." 

"Talk your way out of it, Murphy. Talk your way out of it." 

"I judge it's the German-Russian non-aggression pact you are referring to." 

"I am, Murphy. I am." 

" 'Tis a non- aggression pact; not a military alliance." 

"Ah, pish, Murphy! What's the difference?" 

"I understand there's a box of them on Stalin's desk and anyone can step 
up and sign one. If they all did and lived up to it, 'twould be a fine thing." 

"Now what's this nonsense you're bringing up?" 

"Indeed, O'Brien, the Soviets will sign one with Chamberlain if he wants, 
or with France or with Poland or even the Fiji Islands. It simply says, I will 
not knock your block off and you will not knock my block off." 

"Aye, but a few weeks ago it was all collective security the Russians talked 
about. Now they have junked it and refuse to fight Hitler." 

"There is no such stipulation, O'Brien. Do you know the meaning of the 
word 'non-aggression?' " * 

"Indeed I do." 

"Well, it does not apply should Hitler try to beat the brains out of a 
neighbor or climb in the window and steal his shirt. The Russians are free 
to help any nation defend itself from anyone, Poland included," 

"What about the clause, Murphy? What about the clause?" 

"What clause?" 

"The clause saying if Germany attacked anyone, the non-aggression pact 
was out. That clause was to be in there, but in the Gad they left it out." 

"In my opinion, O'Brien, they didn't leave it out, they threw it aut. Neither 
Chamberlain, France or Poland would sign the mutual defense pact with the 
Russians. That meant they contemplated handing Poland over to Hitler and 

85 



the next thing you know he'd be barking on the Soviet border. If the cancel- 
lation clause was left in there, the non-aggression pact would be null and 
void the minute the Nazis marched into Poland. As it is even if they Munich 
Hitler up to the Russian border, he will have to break the pact in order to 
attack them." 

"Aye, but you have not explained why Russia does not defend Poland. 
'Twould be wiser to do that than to wait till the Nazis are on their own front 
porch." 

"Poland refused, O'Brien: Poland still refuses. They say they would just 
as soon entertain the Nazis as invaders than the Russians as defenders. They 
can still change their mind if they want. For that matter, France and England 
can still sign the defense alliance if they want. They have but to step up and 
sign their names." 

"How do I know this is the truth, Murphy? How do I know you're not 
making this up?" 

"It's all in the newspapers, O'Brien — only in such garbled fashion you can 
scarce make head nor tail of it." 

"Aye, but it says Chamberlain would have signed, only Russia demanded 
a slice of Poland for her part in it." 

"The Russians deny that, O'Brien, and Chamberlain never said it. Nobody 
ever said it. 'Tis but an invented rumor with nobody quoted. The fact is 
Chamberlain refused to include military cooperation and refused to let the 
Soviets step onto Polish soil to aid in the defense. Evidently Mr. Chamberlain 
wanted to make sure the Germans get up to the Russian border. All the part 
Russia was to play was to supply materials and munitions to the Poles." 

"That would at least help to some extent. Why did the Russians refuse?" 

"They did not refuse. They're supplying Poland with anything she wants 
right now and will continue to do so in the future. The non-aggression pact 
doesn't interfere with that and neither do you need a mutual defense pact 
to secure it. The kind of pact Chamberlain designed would have given the 
Nazis permission to bomb Russian cities and factories but would have for- 
bidden Russia to step onto Polish soil to fight them. 'Twas a sly game Mr. 
Chamberlain played. The Russians are now forcing his hand." 

"I don't know, Murphy. I don't know. It's all greatly confusing." 

"You can always bide your time a while till the issues become clearer 
before you go jumping to conclusions. After all, O'Brien, if Fascism and 
Communism were the same thing, as you seem anxious to think, 'twould be a 
great disaster — not cause for rejoicing. Furthermore, in that case the Russians 
would be snatching and Anschlussing all over the map, which, as you observe, 
is not the case. Leaping to conclusions and then being proved wrong by history 
is poor mental exercise. According to Darwin, that's how monkeys are made." 

86 



WAR, THE BLAZING INSANITY 



{Excerpts from Radio Broadcast, September 5, 1939) 

The man-made thunder of artillery sounds in the ears of Europe and the 
roar of bombing planes is terrorizing the sky. The little personal plans of 
common men and their families are trampled like grass beneath the hob-nailed 
march of infantry. 

Peasants once more heap their dog-carts with the humble treasures of the 
poor and flee their homes. Grandmother's patch-work quilt, the chime clock 
off the mantel, the special set of dishes purchased plate by plate and cup by 
cup through long years of savings, a box of shawls and linen — all are piled 
into the dog-cart. Behind it comes grandma herself leading little Jeanette by 
the hand and carrying the bird-cage in the other. They crowd the side of the 
road because the big guns are moving down the center. 

It's war again, dirty, horrible and terrifying. 

The venomous snakes in London's Zoo have been destroyed as a precaution. 
Schools, museums and libraries are closed. Valuable art treasures are removed 
to underground vaults. 

Submarines glide in the deep green depths of the ocean. 

"One lifeboat swamped near our bow," said an eye-witness to the 
"Athenia" sinking. "All hands were engaged in hauling aboard survivors 
from another one and we were helpless to save its occupants. Their screams 
were heart-rending. A young woman who had been pulled from the water 
sat quietly in the rescue boat for a moment, and then, screaming 'My baby/ 
leaped into the sea." 

In Warsaw, the sky was ripped and torn by dog-fights as Polish pursuit 
planes battled German bombers. Said an eye-witness: 

"A nurse in blood-spattered uniform led two stretchers with their bleeding 
burdens into an improvised first aid station. Beside two smashed automobiles 
I saw a dead horse and sprawled alongside the animal was a figure covered 
with a dirty coat. An old woman on a stretcher shrieked above the din. Women 
and children — mothers clutching babies, terror marked on their faces-— fled 
from the heavily bombed area. Some carried bundles, staggering through the 
streets apparently without any idea where they were going. A girl carried a 
bird-cage, not realizing that the bird was dead." 

In New York the giant liner "Queen Mary" docks with more than two 
thousand strained and nervous passengers. Down the gang-plank comes an 
elderly man, his face a mask of bitterness and despair. Reporters recognize 
him, rush forward with ready pencils. He waves them aside. "I don't know. 

87 



I wish I could tell you. I feel terrible." This is Erich Maria Remarque, author 
oi "All Quiet On the Western Front" — today a man without a country. 

It's war, ladies and gentlemen. The blazing insanity of nations that 
wouldn't face the need of social reform, refused to make the necessary social 
adjustments to solve their problems peacefully. 

War, the angry clawing of a dirty beast — the confession of mental, social 
and moral bankruptcy. 

We want to remind you of what President Roosevelt said a week ago before 
Britain and France entered the war. He said: 

''You must understand that war in Europe will mean the complete collapse 
of private economic enterprise there. The United States could not escape the 
effects of such a change, either politically, socially or economically. We would 
be confronted with a titanic war of ideas. We have millions of dispossessed, 
jobless and hopeless people. . . . We must give our people a stake in our 
system of free enterprise so they will be willing to defend it and fight for it." 



AFTERTHOUGHTS OF THE WAR 



(People's World column, November 13, 1939) 

War in Europe has disrupted the public mind and temporarily thrown our 
thinking out of balance. Local matters have been thrust into the background 
while the people spend the major part of their mental energy trying to figure 
out how the French army can crack the Siegfried line. They sit up till all hours 
of the night with ears glued to the radio, catching snatches about sinking ships 
and bursting bombs. 

It would be interesting to know how much of this stems from a sober 
realization of what is going on, and how much is merely morbid fascination. 

A nervous strain is taking its toll of everyone. Nine years of grueling 
depression, years of suspense, and now a period of sharp excitement meagerly 
nourished by vague dispatches and rumors. A more closely censored, highly 
suspicious war was never waged. It is evident from the nature of the carefully 
thought out communications that the governments involved do not trust each 
other, have no confidence in their people, and the people have scant faith in 
them. No one is sure of his ground and the atmosphere of nervous uncertainty 
is conveyed into every heart. 

The loose shutters that rattle in every wind that blows are already clap- 
trapping their doubts and panics. Every fragment of information or rumor 

88 



sends them leaping to the most drastic conclusions. Firmer minds reserve 
judgment and await sober facts. 

In due time our brains will adjust themselves. Our attention will swing 
back to local matters which we will view in the light of their relationship to the 
world situation. Meanwhile, we mustn't neglect the laundry or let the dishes 
stack up in the sink while we're leaning out the window to watch a dog fight 
in our neighbor's yard. 

We have a first class job on our hands right here at home — the very same 
job, in fact, which Europeans are trying to solve by knocking each other's 
blocks off. Let's hope to heaven we have sense enough here to keep on the 
road of social reform and work o\it sane methods of sharing our great abund- 
ance in peace and constructive labor. That's not at all assured, let me tell you. 
It's going to take a lot of strenuous, level-headed work. 

Too many industrialists give evidence of welcoming war. Perhaps they are 
influenced by their memory of unprecedented profits in the last one. They 
should take warning that the scandalous exposures which followed the armis- 
tice have placed labor on its guard. There is one thing that is absolutely 
uncontroversial about that last war: labor took a terrific rooking. We were 
long on heroism and short on brains. 

Many industrialists evidently feel a war is an excellent means of side- 
tracking labor and social reform. In such a national emergency they believe 
unions and reform movements will be set aside — tabled — pigeonholed — and 
that by the time the war is over they will be dead issues, easily crushed in 
the after-war hysteria and confusion. 

They should not bank too heavily upon history repeating itself. Truly, 
labor learns the hard way — but labor learns well. Like the elephant, it may 
be taken unawares the first time you feed it a plug of tobacco — but it never 
forgets. 

This war is no doing of the common man. It is something he is roped 
into by the statesmen and huge monied interests. No one should be stupid 
enough to condemn aggressor and defender alike. The people are trapped 
in a situation. They must defend their homes and fight off the threat of 
fascism. And yet that very threat is something that would never have arisen — 
never have marched — -had it not been for the machinations of their own 
millionaires and officials. I think the people of Europe will deal decisively 
not only with fascism but their betrayers at home before this is finished. 

Meanwhile, here in America we must roll up our sleeves and tackle our 
own problems of unemployment and distribution. Like all problems, they will 
be solved by those directly affected by them. In other words, those who have to 
solve them. It's a job of social reform and if we don't accomplish it, then our 
children will inherit the whole bloody mess and it will be on their hands. 

89 



O'BRIEN'S CONFUSION 

(People's World, September 20, 1939), 

"See here, Murphy," said Mr. O'Brien. "Are you trying to make an idiot 
of yourself or me or both of us?" 

"I am content to leave all manufacturing of idiots to the public schools 
and the newspapers," said Murphy. 

"Very clever you are, but I'd recommend you should blackout your wit 
temporarily for I'm about to bomb your intellect." 

"In that event I shall blow my siren." 

"Blow vigorously, Murphy, for all the good it will do you. First you told 
me the Soviets were a peaceful people with a peaceful army — veritable angels 
in your opinion— and the next thing you know they are invading Poland. Who 
am I to believe? You or my own eyes?" 

"Were I an idealist, O'Brien, I would tell you to use your own brain. 
But being a practical man I will give you the benefit of my own." 

"You can leave out the philosophy and answer my question." 

"You are aware, I suppose, that the Soviets originally offered to aid Poland 
in fighting the Germans?" 

"I am. But they didn't, so what of it?" 

"So the Polish higher-ups refused to let the Soviets aid them. Did you 
know that?" 

"Certainly I know that. They didn't trust them." 

"Be that as it may, neither the Polish heads, nor Chamberlain, nor Daladier 
would permit Russian aid. Whether they trusted them or not, the Russian 
motives were far from sentimental. With Hitler in such a grabbing and 
auschlussing disposition, they did not want him on their border. They would 
rather have fought him in Poland than waited till he was wiping his feet on 
their doormat." 

"I know that well enough, Murphy. You don't have to tell me. Get to the 
point. Why are the Soviets invading Poland?" 

"Take it easy, O'Brien. One thing leads to another. When the Allies gave 
her the run-around, Russia figured, oh oh, these boys are finagling. They want 
to Munich this Hitler up to our border and sick him on us." 

"So what?" 

"So they turned to Mr. Hitler and said: 'Nutty as you are, you can't be 
nutty enough to tangle with us. We'll not only knock your block off but bomb 
your munition plants — something you capitalistic nations never do to each 
other/ " 

90 



"So they signed the non-aggression pact. I know that. What I want to 
know is why are they invading Poland?" 

"We're coming to that. Now then, I suppose you've read in the papers 
that Germany attacked Poland." 

"I did indeed, and you know I did." 

"And I suppose you know it was like taking candy from a baby." 

"I do. It was that pathetic, Murphy— that pathetic." 

"And you read also about the aid given by Britain and France." 

"Great aid, I call that. The London chambermaids could make more of a 
war with feather dusters." 

"Aye, now put yourself in the place of the Soviets, O'Brien. There was 
the Polish nation crushed and bleeding. There was the noisy German army 
rumbling closer and closer to the Russian border. There were the Alliej 
finesseing and finagling along the Siegfried line." 

"A dirty mess. I spit every time I think of it." 

"So the Soviets say to themselves: That Hitler knows better than to tangle 
with us. We'll just move in and occupy the territory he hasn't marched into 
yet. We'll squat on that territory and tell him the war is over so far as Poland 
is concerned. 

"Poland was all through anyhow and all the crooked higher-ups had fled 
into Roumania, leaving the poor people to be bombed and blasted." 

" 'Tis land grabbing nevertheless." 

"All this was Russian territory seized from them in the last war. Remember 
that, O'Brien, and the people are Ukrainians and White Russians." 

"Aye, and the United States once belonged to the Indians." 

"What would you have them do? Stand by and let Hitler grab the whole 
works and establish himself on the Russian border? That would be silly." 

"I still think they should have helped the Poles." 

"And I still remind you that even to the last ditch the Polish higher-ups 
wouldn't let them." 

"I know that. Still it's all such a devil of a goddam dirty mess a man like 
me don't know what to think about it. And you, Murphy! What help are 
you? If the Soviets all shaved their hair off and painted their heads green, 
you'd find some way of figuring it out to be an excellent and sensible thing." 

"Then I have a suggestion, O'Brien." 

"You always have a suggestion." 

"What do you say we mark time and reserve judgment for a few months 
till we see how it all turns out. Just to keep ourselves occupied while we're 
waiting we might concentrate a little on straightening this country of ours 
out so we can all live and work in peace and decency." 



91 



DAVID'S SLINGSHOT 



(People's World, December, 1939) 

Many people hitherto sympathetic to the Soviet Union have been badly 
shaken by the invasion of Finland. The occupation of Poland staggered them 
somewhat, but, with notable-exceptions they weathered it. 

In the case of Poland it was the prospect of alliance with Hitler that 
troubled them more than anything else. By now it is apparent that was no 
alliance. Hitler simply wanted no trouble with the Russian bear. If the Soviets 
had not moved in, Hitler would have had all of Poland. The Polish govern- 
ment would have no part of Russian aid and had deserted the country before 
the Russians entered. It was a very poor government, to say the least. 

Finland is another matter. There, if we are to accept the newspaper 
version, it is a matter of clear-cut aggression and land-grabbing, combined 
with the air bombing of defenseless civilian populations. 

Much depends on whether we are to accept that newspaper version. 

The common explanations are well known. Finnish territory was within 
artillery range of Leningrad, around which is centered a quarter of the Soviet's 
heavy industry. The Finnish government's hostility to the Soviet Union has 
been rabid for more than 20 years. Her close relationships with Britain and 
Germany — both of whom, regardless of how contradictory it may seem today, 
are intensely anti-Soviet — are also well known. 

For the past month, informed sources have all agreed that the following 
facts are reliable: 

1. — British bankers largely financed the re-arming of Germany with the 
express understanding Hitler was to invade and crush the Soviets. 

2. — The sudden end to Britain's conciliation of Hitler, and the declaration 
of war resulted from Germany's decision not to exhaust herself in war against 
the Soviets, but to challenge British supremacy instead. 

3. — Britain is afraid to pound Germany too vigorously for fear her 
exasperated population might revolt and go Communist. 

4. — The whole of British diplomacy is now exerted toward seeking to 
make Germany stage an about-face and pursue her original objective of march- 
ing on the Soviets. 

In that event, "tiny" Finland, with her guns trained on the Soviets' key 
industrial center, would provide the main base of operations against them. 
Her willingness — aye, eagerness — to act as such a base was almost hysterical. 
All military men will concede that in event of war, Russia's first and most 

92 



critical task would be to push the Finns (and by that time her Allies) off the 
Karelian peninsula, and protect her vital industrial region. 

It will be remembered that the Soviets made every effort to remove this 
menace by the peaceful exchange of territory. Neither the Karelian peninsula 
nor the barren islands requested by the Soviet were of any consequential com- 
mercial value. But the large chunk of territory she offered in exchange was 
of genuine use. The Finnish government refused. 

As for ruthless Soviet bombing of Finnish cities, I do not believe it and 
we have yet to hear of civilian casualties. If it be true, then it is remarkable 
in more ways than one because it will signify the first accurate news reports 
that have come out of Finland in the past twenty years. Helsingfors (Helsinki) 
the city reportedly violated, has, ever since the Soviets were first established, 
considered its major industry to be the manufacture of the wildest and most 
idiotic anti-Soviet propaganda. 

Europe right now is engaged in the crudest and bloodiest knock-down 
drag-out for profits and imperialist power since the last war. Unable to solve 
their internal economic problems, they have lapsed into the madness of killing. 
Russia is sitting right in the middle of it. I am not the Russian ambassador. 
I am merely an advocate of socialism and a sympathizer with the Soviets' 
efforts to establish it. I haven't the slightest notion what she might or might 
not do as events roll onward in Europe. But I have a hell of a lot more con- 
fidence in her judgment and motives than I have in Hitler, Chamberlain, 
Daladier, King Carol, and whatever the name of the particular phony baloney 
in Hungary is. 

Our information from abroad is going to become more screwey, crooked 
and hysterical every day from now on. Go back and read some of the old 
World War newspapers if you want an eye-full of Nut House News. 

All I say to the Soviet Union is this: It's your job to keep their dirty snouts 
out of the Socialist garden patch. Whatever you have to do to accomplish 
that — DO IT! Don't pause to wonder whether I'll understand it or not or 
whether it will panic me or stagger my intellect. Give that crooked pack of 
bums blow for blow, and if you can beat them to the punch, then sock into 
them. 

Goliath didn't have sense enough to take David's slingshot away from 
him. I'm glad to see you're not so dumb. 



93 



WE KNOW ENOUGH 

1 do not know what statesmen talk about 
In all those private parleys in and out 
The shining doors beyond which none may spy 
In London, Berlin, New York and Shanghai, 
But this 1 know, those statesmen, short and tall, 
Thin, fat, or bald or bushy — one and all — 
Are up to some shrewd devilment, and they 
Are crooked as the road to Mandalay. 

I do not know the schemes which financiers 

Sit pouring in and out each other's ears, 

Or what cruel noisy future they may be 

Designing for the likes of you and me, 

But this I know, their records have been such 

As common men do not admire much, 

And 1 would never trust a financier 

As far as I could blow the foam off beer. 

I may not know precisely what it's for 
But I do know they sit there planning war. 
And though I doubt the sense of their crusade, 
1 do not doubt there's money to be made. 
In this dark hour, Brother, let's review 
The things we do not know and those we do. 
We cannot trace each rumbling of the drums, 
But this we know, the financiers are bums. 

Ah, here, betwixt depression and a war 
Sit you and me unsatisfied and sore. 
Tradition says that both of us are chumps 
All history is the kicking of our rumps. 
A war! A high ideal! The bugles blow! 
The band strikes up a march and off we go. 
'Tis nature, they explain, that makes us willing 
Thus lightly to embark on wholesale killing. 



94 



7 wonder if those statesmen, one and all. 
Are not a pack of damn fools after all? 
For, Brother, there's a new word going round 
That says our bones shall stay above the ground. 
And, Brother, it is even being said 
That you and 1 shall live to die in bed. 
A word of hope that has not reached the ears 
Of mighty diplomats and financiers. 

We're taking learned volumes off the shelves 
And learning about governing ourselves. 
And talking over what we know and don't 
And all the things we're apt to do and won't; 
And that new word of hope is sounding shrill — 
Forging a solid democratic will, 
Sounding above the ranting and the drumming, 
Warning them alb. The Yanks will not be coming. 



95 



t The Locomotive of History 



HISTORICAL SPEED 

"You'll never live to see it, my boy." 

"It won't be in your lifetime and it won't be in mine." 

It doesn't make very much difference what they are talking about, those 
phrases are typical. 

Most people have a very slow and gradual conception of time that breeds 
pessimism. They learn little from history because the timing of their brains 
is false. 

Go out to the park some afternoon. You will find a lot of old men sitting 
on the benches. Some of them are reading newspapers — some of them feeding 
the birds. Talk to them. They are not hard to get acquainted with. See if you 
can find one 86 years old. It shouldn't take you more than ten minutes because 
there are plenty of men 86 years old. Take a good look at him. 

On November 27, 1852, the year he was born, a paddle-wheel steamer, 
the "Mississippi," sailed quietly out of Norfolk harbor and headed for the 
Orient. It was an American warship carrying Commodore Perry to join a 
squadron in the Portuguese port of Macoa on the coast of China. In the cabin 
of the "Mississippi" was a gold and rosewood box containing a letter to the 
Emperor of a mysterious and little-known island empire called Japan. 

More than 200 years before Perry's visit, the Japanese had a brief and 
disgusting experience with European adventurers which resulted in an imperial 
edict: "For the future, let none, so long as the sun illuminates the world, 
presume to sail to Japan, not even in the quality of Ambassadors, and this 
declaration is never to be revoked on pain of death." 

It was Perry's assigned task to see that this declaration was revoked, and 
to open the markets of Japan to American trade. If he could do it peacefully, 
well and good. If not he was to resort to arms. 

The previous foreign visitation in the sixteen hundreds landed three 
competitive factions of Christian faith at Nagasaki; the Portuguese Jesuits, 
the Spanish Franciscans, and the Dutch Protestants, who entered into the 
most unfriendly possible rivalry for converts. Their bickering and conniving 
became such a disruption that the Japanese played one against the other to 
their mutual massacre. Thenceforth only one Dutch ship a year was permitted 
to call at the port of Nagasaki and even then under the provision that the 
captain do homage to the governor on his hands and knees. 

96 



After nine months of polite talk (with his guns on the table) Perry 
negotiated a limited trade treaty guaranteeing "perfect, permanent and uni- 
versal peace, and a sincere and cordial amity." 

Needless to say the Japanese didn't like it and only signed under the 
shadow of Perry's cannon. Once they even mobilized to defy him but gave it 
up after sober calculation of the worth of their medieval arms against modern 
warships. 

Part of Perry's strategy was to offer an exhibition of modern arms, imple- 
ments and machinery on the beach of Yeddo (Tokyo). The newly invented 
telegraph, a miniature railroad, rifles, revolvers, clocks and scientific instru- 
ments were included in the display. The Japanese wasted no time making 
copious notes and sketches with a view to duplicating them. This inclined the 
progressive sentiment toward Perry's proposals and furthered his purpose. It 
also split the empire with political pros and cons that ultimately proved the 
downfall of the rule of the Shoguns. 

Now let's watch time move and reckon its pace. We'll return to the old 
man in the park. All this happened in his life span — and he's still alive. 

Borrow his newspaper from him. Read on the front page what Japan is 
today and what.it is doing. Eighty-six years from Perry to the Panay! 

There's no telling what you'll live to see, brother. 



MURPHY IS SCEPTICAL 



"Indeed, O'Brien, if Hitler ever comes over here, Wall Street will pay 
his fare, and you can make up your mind to that" 

"You must be mistaken, Murphy, for in every paper 'tis big business which 
is leading the fight against the Hitler menace." 

"Yes, and 'twas big business that built the Hitler menace and is now 
profiting royally from it, O'Brien. They weren't so interested in stopping 
Hitler when we used to picket the docks against shipping him scrap iron/' 

"Business is business, Murphy. If they didn't sell it to him somebody else 
would." 

"Who else, may I ask?" 

"Why, someone else, that's all." 

" 'Tis a woeful prospect," said Mr, O'Brien. 

"What woeful prospect?" asked Mr. Murphy. 

"They say Hitler will be over here any day to blitzkrieg us," said Mr. 
O'Brien. 



"Where big business is concerned, O'Brien, there isn't anyone else. Business 
is business and there's no else to it." 

"Say what you like, Murphy, but we do not want Hitler over-running 
America." 

"Indeed we don't, O'Brien. But can you tell me why not?" 

"Because he would smash the unions and lower the standard of living, 
that's why." 

"Big business would dojhe same thing, O'Brien." 

"It would if it could, but what are you getting at, Murphy?" 

"Hitler is big business in person, O'Brien. They built him up and made 
great profits out of it. Now we're supposed to knock him down and they will 
profit even more greatly from that." 

"All that may be so, Murphy. But it is no argument for letting him con- 
quer America." 

"He has not conquered America, O'Brien, and stands no chance of con- 
quering America unless big business helps him." 

"Murphy, you seem to think big business is responsible for everything." 

"Well, it is, isn't it?" 

"Yes, I suppose it is. But that doesn't explain what we're going to do 
about Hitler." 

"Things are highly controversial in Europe, O'Brien." 

"Indeed I know it, Murphy. It's so controversial you can be certain of 
nothing." 

"Aye. That's were you are wrong, O'Brien. There are two things in 
Europe which are not controversial and of which all men may be certain." 

"And what are those, may I ask?" 

"They are unpleasant and eternal realities, O'Brien, famine and pestilence." 

' 'Tis a very melancholy prospect for them." 

"Yes and no, O'Brien. Big business in all countries is not so much afraid 
of the war as of what will happen when the war is over." 
"When peace comes, you mean." 

"Aye! And when the people of all nations begin to yell: 'When do we 
eat?' " . 

"That will be an embarrassing day for some people, Murphy." 
"O'Brien, you are a master of under-statement." 

"Then why does big business believe Hitler can come over here and 
blitzkrieg Us?" 

"They don't think so at all, O'Brien. What they are afraid of is Communist 
revolution sweeping Europe." 

"Aye! That would embarrass them very much also." 

"Not only that, but all the South and Central American countries have to 

98 



sell their beef and hides and products and raw materials to Europe in order 
to live, O'Brien. It would mean all of Latin America was dependent on trade 
with Socialistic countries." 

"And so what, Murphy?" 

"And so big business feels we must have a walloping big army and navy 
so that if, in the end, the people of Europe kick both Hitler and Mussolini 
down stairs and establish socialism, they can prevent socialism from spreading 
to the Western Hemisphere." 

"You mean they would unite the American democracies." 

"Democracies, my neck, O'Brien. Aside from Mexico and Chile, the 
nations of Latin America have no more democracies than Britain or Germany. 
They are Fascist-like dictatorships set up by the big Wall Street banana, rubber, 
oil, mining and other interests." 

"You know, Murphy, I have often thought, if we would only get busy 
and straighten out our own country, so that everybody had jobs and a little 
security and could live their lives and have some fun, then we wouldn't have 
to worry about all these things." 

"Aye! But that would require the cooperation of big business, O'Brien, 
and big business simply will not cooperate." 

"And why not, may I ask?" 

"Cooperation, O'Brien, is Communistic. 'Tis only by individual scrambling 
and kicking each other in the face that civilization as we know it can endure." 

"Perhaps so, Murphy. But I have often wondered — must it endure?" 



WILLY AND THE BOMBS 

Young Willy worked at a metal trade 
In the mill where bombs and shells are made 
And the bombs went by on an endless chain 
That drilled monotony into his brain. 
And he screwed each fuse with careful eye 
And checked each bomb that drifted by 
'Til bombs and bombs with measured tread 
Were marching squads in Willy's head. 
They were smooth and round and nicely tooled 
And sharp and accurately ruled. 
He screwed each fuse for days and days 
'Til bombs swam round him in a maze 
And a sickly, dizzy, blinding spell 
Confused his brain, and Willy fell. 

99 



When his head came clear, to his great surprise 
He discovered bombs had mouths and eyes. 
They stood around, a thousand or more. 
Watching him lie on the factory floor. 

"Get up, you lazy bum," said one, 
"There's lots of blasting to be done." 
"Get up, yoiLslug," another said, 
"And screw a fuse into my head" 
"Get up! Get up!" their voices yelled, 
"Whole towns are waiting to be shelled." 

Poor Willy gazed about the place 
And passed one hand across his face, 
For bombs that talked and shout of war 
Were bombs he'd never seen before. 
And stranger still, each bomb could say 
What fiendish role its iron would play. 

"I'll drop," said one, "to some hotel 
"And blow the occupants to hell." 
"I'll burst," another said, "on decks 
"And blast the crew to mangled wrecks." 
"I will," said another, "on some dark night 
"Come screaming down from terrible height. 
"Women will tremble, children will cry, 
"As faster and faster, out of the sky, 
"Louder and louder, down and down, 
"I'll shriek and burst in the heart of a town. 
"Ripping the earth and walls and stones, 
"Strewing the wreckage with flesh and bones" 

Another one jibbered, "I'll kill! I'll kill! 

"I don't know who. But I will! I will!" 

Their voices shrieked of terrible places, 

Mangled stumps and eyeless faces, 

Dark black terror and screaming fright. 

And children huddled in the death-mad night, 

And they laughed— they laughed insane and glad 

At shell-torn flesh and brains gone mad. 



100 



And Willy crouched on the concrete floor, 
"My God!" he screamed, "No more! No more!" 
But closer and closer they leaned and yelled 
Of women and children shocked and shelled, 
Of the good earth torn with deafening noise 
And soaked in the blood of men and boys. 
"No more!" yelled Willy. "No more! No more!" 
And his arms struck out at the bombs of war. 

Then suddenly Willy opened his eyes. 

There was the factory. There were the guys. 

"Take it easy," said Bill. "You just passed out. 

"What the hell is this f no more* stuff about?" 

"You yelled f No more, No more/ " said Ed, 

"And tried to clout me on the head." 

"You must have had a dream" said Pete. 

"Or else you're daffy with the heat." 

Willy looked slowly, one to the other. 

He was pale. He trembled. "Oh, Jesus, brother! 

"My God, if you fellows only knew! 

"If you'd only see it — this plant — this war, 

"You'd rise and shake your fists and roar: 

" ( No more of this, by God, no more!' " 



THE LOCOMOTIVE 



(People's World, ]une, 1940) 

This is an era of political jitters. When the proverbial locomotive of 
history turns corners, some fall oft', while others momentarily lose their balance 
or fall in the aisles— especially those passengers who were dozing at the time. 

When the train runs into a tunnel, they scream "All is lost" and suppose 
that the tunnel runs straight into the ground through eternal darkness. Every 
bump of the rails terrifies them with the vision of disaster. 

They have little confidence in either the train or the crew or the tracks 
or the destination or themselves or anyone else. It is on the smooth level 
stretches that they pick themselves up, resume their seats, and lounge back 
to complain the train doesn't go fast enough, the engineers don't know their 

102 



business, and the whistle needs tuning. They pass their time in long discussions 
as to whether the train is even on the right track or not. 

"Give us something to believe in!" is their cry. 

A little man with a pointed beard once replied to them: "All confidence 
in the masses." By that he meant confidence in each other and themselves and 
particularly in the working class. 

He didn't say it in the sense of waiting for miracles. Only the hopeless 
ask for miracles. He made it clear that out of the struggles of the working 
people a strong, sane, peaceful society would arise. Confidence in that struggle 
and participation in that struggle was his answer. 

He warned against trusting the intellectual liberals who dabbled in the 
struggle less in the attitude of brotherhood and common cause than in the 
idealistic belief that their better brains and more sensitive souls would guide 
the "poor dumb working folk." Such persons, he warned, laid all faith in their 
liberal strategies and none in the masses. 

It would be a crude distortion of that wisdom to propose that all liberals 
go crazy in a crisis. It would be equally fanatical to propose that no working- 
man go tumbling off the locomotive or sprawling in the aisles when the 
corners are turned. There's nothing absolute about such a principle. 

It simply means that the working people are no fair maidens locked in a 
tower. No liberal knight on horseback is going to rescue them. When their 
chains are broken, they'll break them, and when a decent society is built, they'll 
build it. And to that end they must all have confidence in themselves and each 
other. 

The hand of brotherhood and fellowship remains always extended to 
those liberals who do have confidence in the masses and who recognize the 
limitations of their role. 

Scorn for those who fall off the locomotive is a waste of time. They fall 
off and sit there rubbing salve on their bruises and that's that. 

There are those who deplore that the cause of the working people does 
not move forward with the smooth and tasteful efficiency of a super-corpora- 
tion. They deplore the differential of five mistakes to one achievement which 
sometimes characterizes the advance of the workers' cause. They have little 
inclination to get in there and pitch hay and try to reduce it to four to two, 
then three to three, then two to four, and finally to a perfect score. 

Their own motto might well be, "He cannot fail who does not endeavor," 
and by doing nothing they avoid all mistakes. , 

At the present time the locomotive has not only turned a sharp corner 
but is traversing a deep forest in which panic, discouragement, despair, anxiety, 
fear, uncertainty, doubt and confusion lurk on every hand. The great historical 

103 



changes are no longer a matter of speculation and conversation. They're 
arriving at full reality. 

It's going to be tough on those who have nothing to believe in — nothing 
in which to place confidence. There stands the working man in overalls. He's 
taken a terrible beating time and again. He's been fooled, betrayed, sold out, 
duped and cheated for centuries. He's made mistakes enough to make the 
liberals gasp — digested his mistakes and gone right on plugging. You'll 
believe in him and have confidence in him or you'll lump it. He has all the 
strength and all the patience. His hands built everything in civilization and 
built it well. Now he has the final job of building Socialism. He'll build it 
well and it will work fine. The things built by labor are the only things that 
do work properly in this world. 

So hang on to your seats, friends. There are curves ahead. 



WARRIORS 



(People's World, 1940) 

Not pacifism, no! We are not sweet, 
Not gentle creatures horrified by blood; 
Not sentimental dreamers who might turn 
Another cheek, or kneel in humble mud. 
We are not humble, not a bit — nor weak. 
And damn you, Sir, we have no other cheek. 

You think we're gentle, loath to strike a blow, 
Or helpless to empower our demands? 
Read history, Sir, and learn about your wars. 
The blood of all those dead is on our hands. 
We are the men who stained the fields of grass 
With our own blood to please your lousy class. 

We are the warriors, Sir — the men who fought 
Your wars through all the centuries of deceit, 
For strange rewards of poverty and death, 
Whether the end was victory or defeat. 
We are the men whose deeds profaned the sod, 
Killing, killing, killing, in the name of God! 

104 



Not pacifists, but warriors, strong and tough, 
Well seasoned by a thousand years of war — 
Killers, long sick of killing, who declare 
We've had our fill of this and want no move. 
But if you start another, mind this well: 
We'll fry you in your chosen brand of Hell. 

If this must be, and history dips its pen 

Into our blood to write of death again, 

We'll seize that pen and write in our own terms, 

The charter of a new and better way. 

And you, not us, will feed the hungry worms; 

And you, not us, will taste the grave's decay; 

And with you, all you leve shall be interred \ 

Your stocks and bonds, both common and preferred. 

If war must be, we'll fight it for ourselves, 

And end the match of profit-crazy greed. 

We'll tear from history's volume that foul page 

Of rich men's lies for which the poor men bleed. 

Our children, then, will sing in freest tones, 

And dance a joyous jig above your bones. 

Not pacifism — no! Of what avail 

To shout: (t Thou shalt not kill!" in ears of men 

Who reap a rich return on every skull, 

And scent the blood of profits once again? 

Morality's your oyster. Virtues soar 

On every screaming banner of your war. 

Not pacifism — no! But something strong. 
A power relentless as your own; 
To claim the earth collectively for man, 
And rip the God of murder from his -throne. 
The final battle, waiting to be won, 
That men may laugh together in the sun. 



105 



Hitler Heads for Moscow 



A SERIOUS QUESTION 



(People's World, January, 1941) 

Things are getting very tight and tense. It will pay to get down to cases 
very quickly and energetically. That war in Europe is not very substantial, 
nor is it securely "under control" by the forces which make wars and profit 
from them. 

I'll qualify that. For the moment it is "under control." But the prospects 
are that it may get "out of hand" within the next year. Few of the people 
know what they are fighting for on either side of any of the various battle- 
fields. When the lid blows off there is going to be hell to pay and you're not 
going to be able to follow it from the accounts that will appear in American 
newspapers. 

I don't know if you remember or not, but that war was preceded by a 
world-wide capitalist depression lasting 11 years — a depression which was in 
no way overcome when the cannons began to boom. 

That depression and that war are not separate things. They are different 
expressions of the same thing, like two sides of the same coin. 

Both the depression and the war are expressions of the breakdown (notice 
I say "breakdown" not "collapse") of a social system. That social system is 
capitalism. 

When an automobile breaks down, all the moral virtues in the world won't 
solve the problem. A sound knowledge of mechanics is required. 

When a social system breaks down, all the indignation and "progressive" 
spirit in the world won't solve anything without an understanding of economics 
and the workings of society. 

As far as producing enough food, building enough works, and turning 
out enough goods are concerned, humanity has solved its problems. But the 
system of capitalism is simply not equal to the new productive power and 
abundance. Socialism is now more than a theory — it has become necessary. 
Capitalism has created two classes — the numerically small but financially 
powerful capitalist class, and the vast majority of wage workers. In between 
lies the so-called "middle class" which is rapidly being reduced to the status 
of wage-earners. 

Most people, regardless of class, have a vague feeling that the people of 

106 



Europe will revolt as a result of the war. The capitalist class feels more sure 
of it than anyone and is terrified to the point of hysterics. 

Now then — let's say they revolt. What are they going to do? Just revolt? 
And what are they revolting against? Hitler? The House of Lords? Mussolini? 
Petain? Those men are simply representatives of the capitalists of their 
various countries. 

Interesting question, isn't it? 

Allow me to insert the word Socialism — not to be confused with the so- 
called National Socialism of Germany and Italy. 

You cannot solve the problem of a broken-down social system unless you 
know what broke down, and how, and what to do about it. An exceedingly 
large proportion of the European working class (and they're the only ones 
who would revolt), knows the answers to such questions. The desire to end 
capitalism and institute Socialism is so strong in Europe that every reactionary 
movement wishing to fool the people has to pretend to be "Socialistic." 

The chances are that this war will end in Socialist (Communist) revolu- 
tions in many, or most, or all of the countries of Europe. This would mean 
taking the industries out of private hands and making them the collective 
property of the people to be operated democratically for use instead of private 
profit. This, as I said before, has now become necessary in the world if any of 
us are to get peace and security. 

There is also the possibility that the capitalist class of Europe will succeed, 
through its agents, in gaining control of the various revolutions and preserving 
capitalism for another period of breakdowns and general discomfort, until 
such time as the people get sense enough to change the state of affairs. Wall 
Street will do everything possible to aid European capital to maintain itself. 

The outcome will depend on to what extent the working people of Europe 
understand what's wrong and what to do about it, and upon how much 
leadership and organization they can rally. That this leadership exists in great 
strength and quality is apparent in the frantic efforts being exerted to suppress 
not only the Communist parties but the labor unions. Labor unions are not in 
themselves Socialist or Communist. But they do give the working people some 
voice in their industries and constitute organs of working class power. 

These are the factors underlying that war. News from Europe, however, 
is carefully censored to exclude any indication of it. 

Socialism in America, despite the fact that our labor movement was orig- 
inally founded on such a principle, is a comparatively little-known word. Not 
so in Europe where it has been a major topic of study among workers for 
generations. Fascism is the violent effort of capitalism to prevent socialism. 

When things start happening in Europe, they're going to be moving fast. 
These points may help you to see through the headlines to come. 

107 



MURPHY: ON TOTALITARIANISM 

Tell me, Murphy, what is totalitarian?" asked Mr. O'Brien. 

"Anything totalitarian is entirely that," said Mr. Murphy. 

"Entirely what?" asked O'Brien. 

"No matter what it is," explained Murphy, "if it's totally that and nothing 
else, then it's totalitarian." 

O'Brien sat quietly for_awhile, then shook his head. "I don't understand 
it at all," he said. "The newspapers speak of totalitarian nations. What do 
they mean by that?" 

" 'Tis a trick word that was invented to confuse people. When Hitler and 
the Nazis broke all the labor unions and jailed all the Socialists and Com- 
munists they could lay their hands on, then they declared Germany to be 
'totalitarian' — meaning the whole population was of one mind and one pur- 
pose with no difference of opinion." 

"Is that true?" 

"Is what true?" 

"Is it true that they are all of one mind with no difference of opinion?" 

"Certainly not. It must mean that anyone who disagrees will be walloped 
on the head with a blackjack." 

' 'Tis but a dictatorship then — a dictatorship of one man over the nation." 

"Not of one man, O'Brien. 'Tis a dictatorship of capitalism over the 
workers and the middle class." 

" 'Tis fascism, then." 

"Aye! 'Tis fascism, like in Italy. The workers were fed up on hard times 
and unemployment and were making ready to end the capitalist system and 
establish Socialism. So the capitalists called in Hitler and financed him to 
suppress them and declare Germany totally capitalistic." 

"But Hitler is always talking against the capitalists, Murphy." 

"He is indeed, O'Brien, and he calls his fascism by the name of National 
Socialism, but it is no more Socialistic than the Stock Exchange. 'Tis but a 
way of hoodwinking the people. The capitalists in Germany are still capitalists 
and run. the country." 

"How about Russia, Murphy. Isn't Russia totalitarian, too?" 
. "Russia is exactly upside down, O'Brien. In Russia the workers and the 
peasants took over things and suppressed the capitalists. They declared all 
the industries collective property and run them for themselves. They have 
established Socialism." 

"And who runs it?" 

"The people run it through their Soviets." 

108 



"And what might be a Soviet?" 

"A Soviet, O'Brien, is a people's council. Representatives are elected from 
the factories and farms who meet together and run the country." 

"But what about Stalin? Isn't he a dictator?" 

"Stalin is the elected leader of the Communist Party of Russia. He is not 
a dictator. He is a leader. He is subject to the decisions of the party and of 
the Soviets." 

"Tell me this, Murphy. What are the differences between totalitarianism, 
fascism, capitalism, nazism, socialism, communism and democracy?" 

"Capitalism is the private ownership of capital and industry and the 
exploitation of human labor for private profit. Fascism is the armed rule of 
capitalists over labor and the middle classes imposed to prevent them from 
establishing socialism. Socialism is the collective ownership of industries and 
resources, democratically operated for use instead of private profit. Commun- 
ism, strictly speaking, is an advanced form of socialism, but in the customary 
use of the word means the same as socialism. Nazism is the German word 
for fascism. Totalitarianism is a trick word actually meaning nothing, but 
generally applied to fascism." 

"Aye! But you left out the last one. What is democracy?" 

"Democracy is the right of free-born men to govern themselves by majority 
consent. Under a democratic form of government you can have socialism or 
capitalism. Russia has a democratic form of government in a socialist society. 
We have a democratic form of government in a capitalist society. The only 
trouble in our case is that the capitalists control both our major political parties 
and manage to control our government, too, which spoils the democracy of it." 



THE SUBVERSIVE ELEMENT 



Miss Hinkle tip-toed quietly through the maternity ward. Row upon row, 
in their tiny cribs, the new-born babies cuddled in sleep. A warm, babyish smell 
mingled with hospital antiseptics. Over several of the cribs she leaned an 
inquisitive eye. 

"Bless them," she thought to herself. "Bless their tiny loveliness." Gently, 
she tucked the cotton comfy around a pink little neck, then tip-toed quietly out. 

A few moments passed, then a small head poked up over the edge of a 
crib — then another, and another down the long row. 

"Is she gone?" asked one. 

"Yeah, but she'll be back," said the one nearest the door. 

109 



"What do you suppose we've got into?" asked another. 

"I don't know, but I don't like the looks of things," said one with big ears. 

A little, black, round head popped up over the edge of a crib. "It's the 
world, that's what! It's the world! I heard them say so. We're alive!" 

"How come we're alive?" asked one. 

"Is it safe to be alive?" asked another. 

"How come I'm so funny and pink when you're nice and black and 
beautiful?" asked another. 

"I dunno," said the little black baby. "I figure they just ain't colored you 
yet. Or maybe I'm just extra special." 

"What are they gonna do with us?" asked 'little big ears. 

"I heard the man with the windows on his eyes talking to the lady in 
white," said one. "He said we're going to grow big and ugly like them. He 
said they will love and cherish us until we get big, then they will kick our 
behinds or kill us in a war." 

"I don't like this world," said one. "It smells funny and I don't trust these 
people." 

"We'd better stick together and take no chances," said another. 

A baby with round blue eyes stood up in a crib and gripped the edge. "I 
heard — I heard that some of us are boys and some of us are girls, and when 
we grow up we'll marry each other." 

"What's marry?" asked another. 

"The lady in white says it's good," declared little big ears. 

"But which of us are boys and which are girls?" 

"I got dibs on you," said one little thing pointing to the black baby. 

"I ain't gonna do no marrying," said the black baby. "At least not 'til I 
know what it is." 

"They got a war on. They got a great big war on. I heard them say so," 
declared one. 

"War! What's war?" asked little blue eyes. 

"They all line up on different sides and shoot each other." 

"What do they do that for?" 

"They don't know any better, I guess." 

"It ain't safe to be alive," said one. "We're going to get into a lot of 
trouble, that's all." 

"These people," said little big ears, "were once as smart as we are. But 
as you grow bigger your brains wear out. Crazy things look sensible and you 
forget what sensible things should be like." 

"You mean the bigger we grow, the crazier we get?" asked the little black 
baby. 

"That's right. It's called experience. The man with the window eyes said 

no 



so. He said: 'They'll grow up into life full of joy and ideals and enthusiasm. 
But as they grow older, they'll get over it. They'll learn to grab and snatch 
and claw like the rest of us. They'll soon outgrow their young ideas.' " 

"Then I ain't gonna grow up," said the little black baby. "I ain't gonna 
grow big and crazy and mean and kill and cheat people." 

"I'm gonna have fun," said little blue eyes. "I'm gonna laugh and sing 
and have fun in life. They ain't gonna make me gloomy and scowly and 
worried." 

"They don't know how to have fun. They don't enjoy the world," said one. 

"We sure got a lot of fixin' up and straightenin' out to do," said the little 
black baby. 

"I'll tell you what," said little big ears, "let's none of us grow up. We 
don't want to be like them. Let's stick together and have fun." 

"Me too," said little blue eyes. "I'm with you," said another. And they 
all agreed to stay sensible and not let the big people teach them their gloomy 
ways. 

Then one of the little faces became serious. "You better all lie down," it 
said. "I'm gonna have to cry." 

"Have you gone and got wet again?" asked the black baby. 

"Well, what's he have to cry for?" asked a newcomer. 

"Haven't you learned?" asked one. "If you get wet, all you have to do is 
cry. They come right away and change your diapers." 

"Is that how you do it?" asked the newcomer. "I've been wet for half an 
hour and didn't know what to do." 

"These diapers ain't no good," said little big ears. "After they been on 
you a little while they get all wet." 

"Yell," said little blue eyes. "Yell and make 'em change 'em. Might as 
well let 'em know right now we ain't gonna stand for any of their nonsense." 

"I ain't gonna let them push me around," said little big ears. 

"Pipe down, all of you," said the black baby. "You two better cry and 
get yourselves fixed up. We don't want no wet diapers in here." 

The ward became quiet again. Then two little voices rose»in a frantic duet. 



Ill 



DEMOCRACY: AN OLD SALT YARN 



(People's World, March, 1941) 

"There is stories and stories and stories," said the old sailor, "but the 
strangest one of all is about the people who wanted democracy." 

"Who were these people?" asked a little girl. 

The old sailor sucked^at liis pipe till the warm smoke flowed smoothly. 
"Why," he said, "they were just people. People like you and me — like the 
folks upstairs and the folks downstairs, and the folks across the street." 

"What's democracy?" asked a little boy. 

"Democracy," said the old sailor, "is the right of freeborn folks to govern 
themselves. In the old days, the countries was ruled by kings and whatever 
they said was law. They said, you gotta do this or you can't do that, and the 
people had to obey or the king's soldiers would put them in jail. 

"Each king was surrounded by an aristocracy of lords and dukes and 
counts and concubines. They taxed the people and used the money to buy gold 
carriages and palaces and throw big champagne parties. They declared wars 
without even consulting the people, and the people had to fight them. As fast 
as the people made or built or grew anything, the kings would take it away 
from them. So the people were poor and unhappy, and the aristocracy was 
rich and useless. 

"After a while the people got tired of being pushed around. They revolted 
and kicked out the kings and dukes and lords and set up what they called 
democracy, so that they could live and think and work in freedom." 

The old sailor's pipe went out, and he paused to strike a match. 

"I know," said a little girl. "And then they lived happily ever after. That's 
not much of a story." 

"Wait a minute," said the old sailor. "That's not the end of the story. That 
ain't hardly even the beginning of the story. They wasn't happy at all." 

"Didn't they like democracy?" asked a little boy. 

"It wasn't that they didn't like democracy," said the old sailor, "but that 
they didn't have it. No sooner were the kings and dukes out of the way than 
some people started right out to see how much of everything they could own 
for their private selves. Instead of just acquiring what they needed and stop- 
ping there, they kept on dealing and scheming and acquiring, until some men 
owned millions of acres, hundreds of houses, dozens of factories, railroads, 
mines, oil wells, mountains, forests and ships. They owned the ground under 
people's feet and the roofs over their heads. They owned practically every- 
thing. You couldn't eat or sleep or dance unless you paid them for it. You 

112 



couldn't even die without your relatives must pay them rent for a little space 
to bury you. You couldn't live at all unless they would give you work to do, 
and then they took for themselves whatever you built or grew and gave you 
just enough to rent a place to sleep and buy food. 

"They was millionaires and billionaires and had more power over the 
lives of the people than even the kings and dukes had. They owned all the 
big newspapers, magazines and radio stations and wouldn't let anything be 
said in them that they didn't like. They controlled all the election machinery 
and filled the government with their own stooges. They ran everything with- 
out even consulting the people, and declared wars the people had to fight. 

"Whenever the people tried to get a word in edgewise, organize, strike, 
or elect a representative, the big millionaire capitalists would call that com- 
munism and attack them in the newspapers. 

"Funniest thing of all was that the people still thought they had democracy. 
They was poor and nervous and unhappy. They were always suffering from 
depressions, unemployment and wars. They grew enough food and made 
enough goods to give everybody a happy life, but as fast as they grew of 
made things the capitalists took it away from them, and they couldn't buy it 
back because they didn't get enough wages. But they still thought they had 
democracy." 

"Didn't they ever have real democracy?" asked a little girl. 

"Oh, yes," said the old sailor. "Gradually some people began to get wise 
to what was going on and demand real democracy. As fast as they did, the 
capitalists would call them Communists and accuse them of trying to destroy 
human freedom. By human freedom, they meant the right to own half the 
earth and have power over the lives of millions. 

"In some countries the people began to wake up and demand real democ- 
racy so much, the capitalists hired thugs to beat them up, did away with pre- 
tending to have democracy and ruled by fascism." 

"And what happened in the end?" asked the little boy. 

"In the end," said the old sailor, "the people realized that you can't have 
true democracy without socialism. They rose up, kicked the capitalists out, 
just like they did the old kings, and then made the lands and the industries 
the mutual property of the people, operated democratically for the good of all. 
They established a Communist society." 

"I know," said the little girl. "And then they lived happily ever after." 

"Well, I wouldn't exactly say that," said the old sailor, "but at least the 
way was clear for humanity to get to its real problems. At least they lived 
like friendly human beings instead of like a pack of wild animals grabbing 
and snatching and clawing each other. At least it was possible for men to live 
and laugh and work and have some fun." 

113 



SOME THOUGHTS ON VIOLENCE 

The McNamara Case 

(People's World, April, 1940) 

Many and thunderous have been the explosions which have ripped and 
torn the earth in the pasfrlialf century, all in the name of some high motive. 
Few indeed have been those blasts touched off in the name of the poor. And 
even those few have been surrounded by stool pigeons, provocateurs and 
frame-ups. 

Dynamite and other explosives are the weapons of wealth and power. 
They are manufactured as a vast and profitable industry and exploded in the 
name of patriotism. They are not the proper weapons of labor. The fact that 
industrialists many times in the past saw fit to send spies into the ranks of 
labor instructed to engineer dynamite plots in order that union leaders might 
be arrested and their cause discredited, is ample evidence of that. Two such 
characters were involved in the McNamara case— undercover operatives who 
frankly worked, not to prevent explosions, but to engineer them in order to 
"get" labor leaders. 

J. B. McNamara was the product of the darkest and most bitter days of 
the struggles of American labor, before the first World War. There was no 
such thing as a Wagner Act or labor's rights in those days. Strikes were broken 
by brute force. Strong-arm gangs were transported from place to place to 
slug and, frequently, kill union leaders. The blasting and wrecking of union 
halls was a common occurence. It was war, cruel and relentless. 

It was inevitable that many men, standing in the smoldering wreckage 
of a union hall, observing the broken bones and spilled blopd of their brothers, 
and the tragedy of want and poverty all around them, should raise their fists 
in anger and shout: "Damn you! Is this the way you fight? Are these the 
weapons you choose? Then, by Heaven, we'll give you blow for blow!" 

I won't apologize for J. B. McNamara. No one regrets more than J. B. 
that men were killed in the Los Angeles Times blast in 1910. That wasn't his 
intention and had the blast not coincided with a leaky gas main it wouldn't 
have happened that way. Ten million men were killed in the first World War 
for motives of private profit, and it wasn't any accident. J. B. had only one 
motive and that was to lift his fellow men from poverty. 

The weapon he chose was a wrong one. For the benefit of those who may 
examine this column for something to level against me, I state plainly, I do 

114 



not advocate such a weapon. What's more, I warn all union men that anyone 
who slinks up to them and starts advocating dynamite is, in nine cases out 
of ten, a paid spy sent into labor's ranks to cause trouble. 

For twenty-nine years J. B. McNamara has been behind the bars, and he 
was sent there by just such men as I warn you against. In this age of super- 
explosives touched off in the cause of private greed, I add my voice to those 
of thousands of other Americans in asking clemency for one man who tried, 
however mistakenly, to use that weapon in behalf of the common people. J. B. 
has only a few more years to live. He is the oldest labor prisoner in America. 

A far greater journalist than me, Lincoln Steffens, sustained that plea to 
his dying day. It would be an act worthy of a great people who understand 
their own history and are intelligently capable of weighing the factors of 
praise and blame. 



J. B. McNAMARA: IN MEMORIAM 



(People's World, March, 1941) 1 

We made no apology or explanation. 

We took his poor dead body, 

From which life had gone, 

And from which no more agony 

Or punishment could be squeezed — 

Which could suffer no more, 

Weep no more, 

Or speak defiance. 

We took his poor dead body, 

Carried it away reverently 

And buried it with love. 

They called this man criminal and violent. 
Those who have rocked the earth with violence 
And sickened it with their own crimes, 
Hastened to call this man violent. 
They were eager, gloating, vindictive. 
tf He is violent;' they leered, 
And their expensive presses 
Screamed and sang with hatred. 



115 



They took him young and calm, 

With kindly eyes, 

And buried him in concrete and steel; 

Hid him from the sun and the sky, 

And barred him from all warmth 

And friendly contact, 

They locked him in a grey world 

Among criminals for thirty years. 



hit warm love 
And the fire of devotion 
Gloived in him — 
Glowed within walls of stone, 
Behind bars of iron; 

And he walked their narrow concrete world 
With head erect 
And pride intact, 
Through tlmty tortured years. 

The presses rolled with hatred 

And spewed their blackening filth, 

Tearing and smearing and gloating 

For thirty, dirty, 

Hate-delirious years. 

His frail body sickened, 

Around a soul that smiled with strength. 

It aged in cold refnement, 

Wasted, iveakened and died. 

And his eyes gleamed with fighting love, 

His lips spoke defiance, 

His soul cried forth in courage 

For the ivorkers he loved, 

While his body sickened and died. 

The presses rolled in another wave 

Of rancid, malignant hate, 

Pouring infamy on his name, 

Dirt on his soul, 

And flinging it in the eyes, 

Screaming it in the ears, 

Of the men he loved. 



116 



But the workers made no apology 
Or explanation. 
They came in solemn dignity; 
Asked for his poor dead body, 
Immune to pain or hate — 
Asked for the empty shell of him, 
Held it in reverent hands — 
Carried the poor dead body off 
And buried it with love. 

We weep, it is true, 

And our heads are bowed in sadness 

As the warm soil covers him over. 

But these are not tears of weakness. 

Our heads will lift 

At the last mean shovel of earth, 

And the dream that lived in J. B.'s head 

And sang in his heart, 

Shall have its birth. 

Today we bury a man we loved — 
A name we recognize and honor 
Without apology or explanation 
To the makers and masters of violence 
Who understood him as well as we did. 



117 



A PANSY PARACHUTER 

(People's World, May, 1941) 

"I do not understand it," said Mr. O'Brien. "All of a sudden out of the 
sky comes Rudolph Hess parachuting on Scotland. What do you make of it, 
Murphy?" 

"For all I know," saicTMr. Murphy, "he may want to waltz with the straw- 
berry blonde. They are all liars, O'Brien. Lies are a part of the war and the 
truth becomes a secret as soon as hostilities begin. Even the war aims are a 
secret." 

"His toe nails were painted red, Murphy. That may indicate he has sub- 
versive intentions." 

" 'Tis rumored this and rumored that. All I know, O'Brien, is that what- 
ever his purpose, it bodes no good for common men like us." 

"They are strange people, the upper classes. I hear he was smelling of 
Christmas Night perfume when they picked him up." 

"They are a fragrant lot, O'Brien, but 'twas not Christmas Night perfume. 
'Twas the approved Nazi brand, Out of the Night." 

' 'Tis a crazy age. A man may be walking down the street and out of the 
sky drops a Duke or a diplomat right on your neck." 

"If I had my choice, I'd prefer a bomb." 

"They say, Murphy, he was trying to land on a pansy bed farther on, 
but missed his mark and fell in a bush of thistles." 

1 'Twas the estate of his friend, the Duke of Hamilton, he was trying" 
to reach." 

"And how could they be friends, Murphy, when they were warring with 
each other?" 

"Aye, the upper classes are never mad at each other in a war, O'Brien. 
'Tis all a sporting thing with them and their friendships are never affected. 
The millionaires all stick together, war or no war." 

"He may have just stopped over in Scotland on his way to the United 
States, Murphy. Most of the upper-class finks wind up here eventually to write 
their memoirs." 

' 'Tis true, O'Brien. Before long the skies will be black with parachuting 
finks. The people will be chasing them out of Europe faster than President 
Roosevelt can shake hands with them at the White House." 

"In that event, Murphy, we should plow up the public parks and replant 
them with cactus, to discourage landings." 

118 



"Did you ever stop to think, O'Brien/ that Hitler's toe nails are probably 
manicured and painted, too?" 

" Tis a gruesome thought. And what about Churchill? Has anyone seen 
him with his shoes off?" 

"Who knows what they might have tattooed on their chests?" 

"The public is entitled to know the truth, Murphy. Our Congressmen 
should be investigated also. 'Tis my opinion not one of them could make the 
grade if they campaigned in bathing suits." . 

"The only honest character in English history was Lady Godiva. She was 
a symbol of truth and rode through the streets naked as a baby, on horseback. 
But the British Government forbade anyone to look at her." 

" 'Tis typical of the British, Murphy." 

"They say everybody drew their blinds and hid their heads when she 
rode naked through the streets." 

"If they did that, then how does anybody know she was naked at all?" 

"An Irishman peeked through the shutters, O'Brien." 

"Good for him. Without the Irish, nobody would know the truth of 
anything." . 

"And now that this Hess has parachuted into Scotland with his red toe- 
nails, the newspapers are making him a hero." 

"How can they change their minds so suddenly, Murphy?" 

" 'Tis merely a matter of changing the headline in a newspaper, O'Brien. 
They don't alter their minds at all. The upper class has nothing against each 
other. They mate with each other and booze together at the same fashionable 
resorts, and that's how the Duke of Hamilton got to know Hess." 

"Yesterday, Murphy, the French were heroes and today they're supposed 
to be no good. I can't follow it all." 

"The newspapers are getting confused themselves. I think O'Brien, the 
war is going crazy and presently the people will rise up and put their foot 
down." 

"That will be a sad day for all the red-painted toe-nails." 

* 'Tis an historical phenomenon, O'Brien. While the rich people get red 
at one end, the working people get red at the other." 

" 'Tis red ideas against red toe-nails then?" 

"Aye, indeed, O'Brien, and the workers of Europe are getting ready to 
give the upper classes a first class manicuring." 



119 



THE WAR HAS CHANGED, 
SAYS MURPHY 

(People's World, June, 1941) 

"Heaven help us," said Mr. O'Brien. 'There are newspaper reporters 
sitting- all over the porch. What you done, Murphy?" 

"Let them in," said Mr. Murphy. "They have been phoning all morning 
and there will be no peace until they have their way." 

Peering to right and to left suspiciously, the gentlemen of the press filed 
into the living room. 

"Sit yourselves down," said Murphy. "Get some chairs from the kitchen, 
O'Brien." 

"As a well-known Communist, Mr. Murphy, we would like to get your 
reactions to Germany's war on Russia," said a reporter. 

"You in the corner," said Murphy, "take your hands out of my wife's 
sewing box." 

"What attitude are you going to take in view of the situation?" asked a 
reporter. 

"I am not the Soviet Ambassador," said Murphy. 

"Our papers would like to know your opinion," said one. 

"Hitler has poked his snoot in the Soviet garden patch and the Soviets 
are going to knock his block off," said Murphy. 

"Will this change your attitude regarding the war?" asked one. 

"How do you mean?" asked Murphy. 

"Well," said the reporter, "at one time you supported Roosevelt and the 
New Deal. Then you changed your policy and opposed him." 

"We changed nothing," said Murphy. " 'Twas Mr. Roosevelt who did 
all the changing. The New Deal was a piddling affair in comparison to what 
was needed. Nevertheless, it was aimed toward helping people and we sup- 
ported it. 'Twas Mr. Roosevelt who changed his mind." 

"But what is your attitude to the war now?" asked one. 

"I hope the Soviets knock Hitler's block off and believe they will do it," 
Said Murphy. 

"I agree with him on that, although I am certainly no Communist," said 
O'Brien. 

"Do you still think it is an imperialist war?" said one. 

"So far as Britain, Germany and Italy are concerned it is an imperialist 
war, fought over colonies and commercial advantages and to the detriment 

.120 



of the people," said Murphy. "But so far as Russia is concerned, it is a war 
against fascism and for the defense of socialism, and I favor anything and 
everything that will help them to knock Hitler's block off." 

"But how about Britain?" asked . a reporter. "She is righting against 
fascism and in defense of democracy." 

"Fascism," said Murphy, "is the suppression of the people in order to 
preserve capitalism and prevent socialism. The British Lords are just as much 
for capitalism and opposed to socialism as Hitler is. Given half a chance, 
they would impose their own brand of fascism in England, and they'll no 
doubt try to do it before they're through. As for democracy, they don't even 
know the meaning of the word." 

"How about Britain's pledge of full aid to Russia?" asked one. 

" Tis for their own purpose, not Russia's," said Murphy. 

"But you advocate it, don't you?" 

"I do indeed," said Murphy. "I advocate anything and everything that will 
help the Soviets knock Hitler's block off." 

"But yesterday your attitude was thumbs down on the war completely. Now 
you have changed. Isn't that true?" asked one. 

"I have not changed. It is the war that has changed," said Murphy. "Yes- 
terday 'twas a war between two rival slave-drivers over who should hold the 
whip, and the people had no stake in it. Today it is a war against fascism 
and in defense of socialism. The people of the world have a stake in that." 

"Then your attitude in regard to the policies of Washington has changed?" 

"The policies of Washington ever since the war began have been aimed 
toward protecting the foreign interests of Wall Street. The aim of Big Business 
everywhere for the past twelve years has been to maneuver Germany into a 
war with the Soviets, let them bang each other to smithereens, then have 
Britain and America step in and make peace on their own terms. They hope 
that's what's going to happen now. 

"I think they're due for some surprises. There is a lot of water to run 
under the bridges in the next few months, and for lightning changes in attitude 
and policy, both Washington and London will bear watching." 

"Can you summarize your attitude in a brief statement?" asked one. 

"It has been my experience," said Murphy, "that it is never wise to make 
flat statements in a round world. However, I can tell you this with assurance. 
The Soviets did not ask for this war. They did all in their power to prevent it. 
But now that it has been thrust upon them, they will knock Hitler's block off 
and wipe fascism off the face of Europe. Since fascism is merely an iron prop 
to hold up a sagging capitalism, then capitalism will go in the bargain. 

"I believe that the hope and future of Europe lies in socialism. 

"I advocate anything and everything that will help the Soviets smash 

121 



fascism. And I advise the people of both Britain and America to keep a sharp 
eye on their millionaire monopolists who will try to give Hitler every assistance 
rather than see Europe go socialist." 

O'Brien came in from the kitchen with a large can. "No doubt you'll all 
be wanting to do your bit," he said. 

The can was labelled: BUNDLES TO RUSSIA. 



A MIGHTY WALL OF MUSCLE 
AND STEEL 

(Excerpts from a speech on the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, 

June 28, 1941) 

The Soviet Union — the first land of socialism — the land where for the 
first time in history men and women have tried to share the earth in brother- 
hood and cooperation, is fighting for its very life. I say fighting for its life. 
By that I do not mean their backs are to the wall, or that their army is 
crumbling in defeat. The mighty Germany army, which walked through 
France like cheese, and chased the British all over the globe, ran into a solid 
wall of muscle and steel when it struck at the Soviet Union. 

In the courage and fighting power of the Red Army I have every confi- 
dence. They know what they are fighting for. They are not fighting for an 
empty promise, but for a living reality. That reality is socialism. And they'll 
never give it up as long as there is breath in their bodies. 

Hitler proposes to march to Moscow. It is not he alone who proposes 
it, but the monopoly capitalists of all the world. That's why they built the 
Nazi military machine. 

But he who would march to Moscow would do well to reckon the price. 
He must wade there through rivers of blood and pay the toll of death every 
inch of the way. He must pay in millions of lives and march there over a 
carpet of his own dead. 

For this is no ordinary war, and this is no ordinary army defending the 
Soviet Union. This is an army of people who own their country together in 
brotherhood. This is an army of soldiers who are fighting their own cause, 
and not for the schemes or ambitions of multi-millionaires. . , . 

I say they are fighting for their lives. 

122 



That does not mean I have any confidence in Hitler's ability to reach 
Moscow. My confidence is in the Red Army's ability to reach Berlin. 

But I know that the multi-millionaire owners in Germany, in France, in 
Britain, and right here in the United States, will stop at nothing to crush the 
Soviet Union. For while German capitalism is a commercial rival, the Soviet 
Union is a socialist threat to the entire system. Today they are reckoning on 
a Soviet defeat. Aid to Russia, they say. And we say the same thing: Aid to 
Russia. But what they mean is just enough aid to Russia to make Hitler's 
job of conquering her thoroughly exhausting, so that they can step in and 
dictate the peace. 

I have confidence in the people of the Soviet Union. They will successfully 
defend socialism and defeat the invaders. And the war of the Soviets against 
Germany is a war for everything the common man holds decent and right. 
They must be given all possible aid. 



123 



War Circles the Globe 



THE RECEPTION COMMITTEE 



(People's World, July, 1941) 

"What is this America First Committee?" asked Mr. O'Brien. "And what 
do they mean by America First?" 

' 'Tis the Adolph Hitler reception committee," said Mr. Murphy. "They 
are jealous of the attention he is paying to other countries. In reality Austria 
was first, Czechoslovakia was second, Poland was third, Norway was fourth, 
Belgium and Holland were a tie for fifth place, and so on down the blitz." 

"You are forgetting," said O'Brien, "Ethiopia was first, then Spain, then 
Albania." 

"Those were the preliminary events," said Murphy. "But you are right. 
They should be included. Correctly speaking, China was the first." 

"Did they have a China First Committee?" asked O'Brien. 

"Certainly," said Mr. Murphy, "almost every country had a Me First 
Committee. 'Tis necessary to grease the blitz. They were the Wang-Ching-Weis 
and others who didn't give a damn for their country just so they got their 
opium and could loaf in their gold pagodas. For their purposes, the Chinese 
coolies were getting too democratic and Communistic and they figured Japan 
could clamp down on them the best." 

"And how do these Me Firsters operate?" asked O'Brien. 

"They work the same in every country O'Brien. They are an international 
to-hell-with-the-other-fellow movement. When Japan invaded China, the Me 
Firsters in all countries said 'to hell with China, it's not our fight.' They said 
to hell with Ethiopia, to hell with Spain, to hell with Albania, to hell with 
Austria, and so on down the line. Then when fascism invades their own coun- 
tries they act as a reception committee and are awarded the juiciest jobs. Mr. 
Laval, for instance, was the Burton K. Wheeler of France and was one of the 
principal Me Firsters who blocked aid to Spanish democracy." 

"Then what they really mean is not Me First but Me Next." 

"They are the men who secretly approve fascism, O'Brien, and who would 
prefer it in their own countries." 

"Aye, but there are those, Murphy, who are against aid to Britain and 
Russia and who have no use for fascism either." 

"Those are the ones the America Firsters play on, O'Brien. Either we give 

124 



full aid to Russia and Britain or the whole world will go fascist. Those are the 
alternatives. -The America Firsters raise a false third alternative, which is simply 
do nothing and let the fascists conquer Europe, which means that Japan would 
have all Asia." 

"How come Japan would have all Asia?" 

"Russia's aid to Qina has been the deciding factor in enabling them to 
hold out. Furthermore Japan can never throw all her might into Asiatic con- 
quest so long as the giant Russian Army exists in Siberia." 

"That would leave only North and South America." 

"It would leave America marooned in a fascist world. South and Central 
America depend on Europe and the Orient, not the United States. They produce 
agricultural items, cattle, hides and such things as we already have more than 
enough of in the United States. Their economic life is tied in with Europe and 
the Orient." 

"We'd be in one hell of a fix defending them from their principal 
markets." 

"Fascism, O'Brien, is union-smashing and strike-breaking on an interna- 
tional scale, together with the gobbling up of little business by big business." 

"There are also those, Murphy, who say help Britain, but to hell with 
Russia." 

"They are the sneakier and most dangerous Hitler reception committee. 
Britain has told us a hundred times that if Russia is knocked out she hasn't 
a chance of licking Hitler without full American participation. 

"Betray that Russian Army and you doom to death, man for man, woman 
for woman, and child for child, an equal number of Americans to the Russians 
now being killed. 

1 'Tis not the Russians alone who would be betrayed. Tis the men in our 
training camps. 'Tis a matter of whether our task will be helping the mighty 
Red Army lick Hitler, or undertaking the whole job ourselves." 

"Aye, Murphy, I understand. 'Tis like the stylish gentleman who refused 
to help the porter carry his trunk upstairs. The porter tried with all his might 
and dislocated his spine. So then the gentleman had to carry his own trunk, 
and discovered he couldn't even lift it." 



125 



THE DIE IS CAST 



(People's World, July, 1941) 

There are those who predict 20 years of warfare and others who predict 
thirty. You can find: somebody to predict anything. But all this straining of 
eyes and brains to read the future is to no point. 

The future will be what we make it. 

The war will be over when Hitlerism is smashed. 

By this time it should be clear that you're not going to get any peace of 
mind or body until that Job is accomplished. 

How long will it take? 

If we fiddle-faddle around enough, the thing will string out indefinitely. 
If we wallop into it with full vigor right now, we've got a chance to wipe 
fascism from the face of the earth in the shortest possible time. 

By this time even the most prejudiced persons can recognize that Russia 
has a first class army, not only in equipment but in leadership and fighting 
morale. Right now, it's the only army on the face of the earth capable of 
smashing Hitlerism. Those who want the Hitler menace smashed would do 
well to ponder that fact. 

For America to build an army capable of smashing Hitler would take long 
years. During those long years, fascism would not be idle and it would be a 
vastly stronger Nazi menace, backed by limitless resources, that American 
soldiers would have to go out and lick. 

Our opportunity to smash Hitlerism is here and now by vigorous and 
immediate support to both Britain and the Soviets. Unfortunately, there are 
those who prefer a twenty or thirty year war — who are not anxious to see this 
thing settled in the shortest possible time. They are the ones who argue that 
Russia and Germany are mutually exhausting each other, to the end that 
intervention will be quite easy later on. 

That doesn't happen to be the nature of modern blitz warfare. Modern 
warfare is an all out proposition, and either the Soviets will smash the Nazis 
or the Nazis will smash the Soviets. Let Hitler smash that Soviet army and 
it will be the greatest catastrophe that ever occurred to England and the United 
States. Your twenty or thirty year war will then loom as a reality. 

We have the chance at this moment to decide the issue between Hitler 
and those who are fighting him. We have the chance to make a British-Soviet 
victory a certainty within the shortest possible time. The balance of forces is 
such at this moment that our full weight thrown into the fight would be 
decisive. 

126 



The weapons we hold in our hands today would not be sufficent to defeat 
a Nazi army that controlled the whole continent of Europe and was backed 
by the resources of Russia. But they are sufficient to win this war today. 

A thousand cannon today can accomplish a job which will require a 
hundred thousand cannon tomorrow if we do not take advantage of our 
opportunity. 

This isn't a gamble. It's a raw reality. Those who want to wait and see 
how the Soviet-German conflict comes out, meanwhile building cannon for 
self defense in case the Soviets lose, are just standing in line waiting to get 
their blocks knocked off. They are trading a certainty f©r a dim hope. The 
certainty is that Hitler can be smashed right now. The dim hope is that "it 
will all come out in the wash." 

Nothing is going to "come out in the wash." That particular laundry was 
shut down for the duration when the Munich pact was signed. 

Our cannon, planes, tanks and warships, today are like so many dollars 
which, if we spend them now, will have their full value, but which, if we wait 
much longer will be devaluated and won't be worth 10 cents on the dollar. 

It's up to us to choose. The weight of our present arms thrown fully behind 
Britain and the Soviets can and will spell certain doom for fascism. Wait 
around about it and we'll not only have to do the whole job ourselves, but 
it will be a much bigger job than it is now. 

Today the bulk of our weight is devoted in the direction of building "an 
invincible American Army" for use in the future. Aid to Britain is less than 
enough. Aid to the Soviets is all verbal. It is less as if we were trying to win 
the present war than as if we were preparing for a still more monstrous war 
tomorrow. * 

We can't build an invincible army to stand alone any more than Hitler 
can. If we want to doom Hitler it's got to be now when we have the might of 
Russia and Britain to fight with. Today the youth of Britain and the Soviets 
are dying by the hundreds of thousands in this cause. Meanwhile, the youth 
of America are being prepared by the hundreds of thousands to die at some 
future date in the same cause. If we act now they won't have to. 

Some authorities say we are not prepared to fight a war and won't be for 
many years. Certainly we're not prepared to fight a major war on our own. 
But Britain and Russia are prepared. We can fight with their cannon, their 
tanks and their manhood as if it was our own. 

We hold the doom of Hitler in the palm of our hand if we act today. 
If we don't, it may turn into our own doom. 

Britain and Russia can appeal to us for help. To whom can we appeal if 
they go down? 

I know there are other considerations and complications. Just sit and worry 

127 



about them and see where you land. Bob Minor once said that there are three 
objectives when a people are involved in a war: (l) To win the war; (2) To 
win the war; and (3) To win the war. 

Let's make up our minds whether we're trying to win this war or get ready 
for si more terrible one later. And you might write to your President, Con- 
gressman and various officials reminding them of this. 

And how about sending a b.b. gun or something to Russia. You can't draw 
a bead on a Nazi with a neighbor's good wishes, A few flying fortresses would 
be more to the point. 

Pretty strong words for the author of "The Yanks Are Not Coming," 
don't you think? Well, a lot of water has gone under the bridge. Today we 
have the chance to end that war and avert far more bloody conflicts. Today 
the cause of peace must reckon on new truths and see to it that THE YANKS 
ARE NOT COMING TOO LATE. 



O'BRIEN CHECKS HIS HEARST 
CLIPPINGS 

" 'Tis my firm opinion," said Mr. O'Brien, "that the United States Army 
should make its tanks out of old sardine cans and provide the troops with rusty 
guns. Also, they should not be fed so well." 

"And what makes you think so?" asked Mr. Murphy. 

"Because," said Mr. O'Brien, "the British and French, with fine steel equip- 
ment and the most up-to-date guns could do nothing;, but the ignorant Russians 
with tin can tanks and rusty rifles are kicking the slats out of the Nazis." 

"You have a remarkable brain for reasoning things out," declared Murphy. 

"Look at the facts," said O'Brien, "The Maginot Line was concrete and 
steel, but the Nazis walked right around it. The Russian forts are made of 
cardboard held together with strings, and the Nazis can't crack them." 

"You missed your calling, O'Brien. You should have been a military strate- 
gist." 

"Indeed, and there's where you are wrong," said O'Brien. "The true facts 
as printed plainly in iJcie newspapers show that the Russians, for no reason at 
all but pure evilness, shot all their best generals. Today they haven't an officer 
who knows one end of a gun from another. I have a scrap book of clippings 
to prove it. Military strategy is obviously of no importance." 

"Perhaps it is morale that counts," said Murphy. 

"You are wrong again,*' said O'Brien, thumbing through his scrap book. 

128 



"The Russians have no morale. I have hundreds of clippings to prove it. You 
don't comprehend human nature, Murphy. Under the Czar, when everybody 
in Russia was happy, the soldiers fought very indifferently and even took the 
opportunity to overthrow the Czar." 

"They must be a cruel species," remarked Murphy. 

"Aye, cruel and peculiar," said O'Brien, "for that they have socialism and 
everybody is miserable, they fight like lions.*' 

"Are you positive of your facts?" asked Murphy. 

"Positive? Why here is the proof, man. Read it for yourself. I have been 
gathering clippings from the Hearst papers for twenty years on the subject." 

"And what is the idea of this socialism?" asked Murphy. 

"It is to suppress everybody and kill as many as possible," said O'Brien. 

"And for what reason? Is it to make money for the billionaires and mil- 
lionaires?" 

"Don't be silly, Murphy. There are no billionaires or millionaires either 
in Russia. They put an end to that." 

"Then for what reason is all this cruelty?" 

"For what reason?" 

"Yes, for what reason?" 

"You mean what is the object of it all?" 

"Yes, what are they trying to do and why?" 

O'Brien rolled his eyes thoughtfully and searched within his brain. Then 
he thumbed rapidly through his scrap book. 

"You mean what's the idea of it all?" he asked. 

"Exactly," said Murphy. 

"-It doesn't say," said O'Brien. "There don't seem to be any clippings about 
that." 

"The Russians say they are building a better, fairer society based on the 
brotherhood of all races and people's ownership of the industries and re- 
sources." 

' 'Tis pure propaganda, Murphy. Pure propaganda! I have hundreds of 
clippings here warning of such propaganda." 

"But they did make the big industries and resources the common property 
of the people." 

"Yes, they did that all right, but 'tis completely impractical. Nothing 
works. Their railroads are ruined. Their factories won't run. Their dams leak. 
Their bridges collapse. Their crops won't grow. You can't operate industries 
unless somebody privately owns them and is getting rich. There is no incentive 
for a ditch digger to dig a ditch unless the man who hires him makes a mint 
of money out of it. You should read these clippings, Murphy. Then you'd 
have knowledge to go on." 

129 



"Do you think by any chance, O'Brien, that the newspapers may have been 
lying all these years?" 

"Now why would they lie to me, Murphy?" 

"It may be that they don't like the idea of socialism." 

"Don't like it! Heaven help me, Murphy, they hate it. You should read 
how they hatelty 

"Why do they hate it? Because it would make the industries belong to the 
people and end their private ownership." 

"Aye, and that's why they lie to the likes of you," said Murphy. 

O'Brien looked thoughtfully at his scrap book: "Then perhaps all this 
clipping and pasting has been a waste of time," he said. 

"Not a bit," said Murphy. "You can mail it back to Mr. Hearst." 

"And what would he do wkh it?" 

"If you think hard, O'Brien, you will think of an excellent place you can 
tell him to put it." 



HEARST ON JAPAN: 
A REMINDER 

(People's World, November 16, 1942)' 
(Comments on a Los Angeles Examiner editorial, December 3, 194iy 

I quote Mr. William Randolph Hearst's December 3, 1941, editorial: 

"The war in the Orient is between Japan and China. It is fundamentally 
not our war at all. Our sympathies are with China, but our interests are not 
with China. 

"China is an immense country with a population of some four hundred 
million people. It is impoverished. It is disorganized and demoralized. It is 
Communist in government or rather lack of government." 

This, mind yvu, was exactly four days before Pearl Harbor and is exactly 
the line of argument on which Hitler justified his rape of all the European 
nations. He goes on to malign the Chinese cause, stating that they were "dis- 
turbing the peace of the Orient generally and making themselves a nuisance 
and a menace to their neighbors." 

He justifies the Japanese aggression as follows: 

"Japan — a neighbor of China's — finally took over a contiguous part of 

130 



China — Manchukuo — occupied it, pacified it, freed it from Communist de- 
moralization, and made it a Japanese possession." 

Then he delivers lengthy praise of Japan's "rule of peace and order" in 
Manchukuo, and says it made this area a better customer of ours. And he adds 
further praise of Japan's activities in all the territory she has seized since Man- 
chukuo. Now get this: 

"Certainly it is not Japan," he said, "that is precipitating war against the 
United States. Our government is supposed to be concerned about American 
interests in the Far East. Yet it was our government that cut off our American 
trade with Japan which was our third best customer of all the nations in all 
the world." 

That was William Randolph Hearst's interpretation of the stoppage of 
war materials to Japan. But let's read further from Hearst on December 3rd: 

"Japan is not threatening us with war. We are threatening Japan. Peace 
can be assured tomorrow if the United States will resume peaceful commercial 
relations with Japan as well as with China, and let Japan and China in the 
Orient attend to their own Oriental business." 

Then he transfers his appeasement arguments to Europe with the remark: 
"Is not the situation in Europe very much the same as it is in Asia? Is not 
Europe weary of war, and have not the allied anti-Comintern nations desired 
peace with England and America?" 

Thus he calls the Axis "the allied anti-Comintern nations" and frankly 
urges capitulation, appeasement and cooperation with Hitler. He bitterly con- 
demns Churchill and England for refusing to make peace with Hitler, calls 
upon the United States to force England to make peace with Hitler and states 
emphatically that the war guilt rests on the United States for not following 
such a course. 

"Let us realize, therefore," said Hearst on December 3rd, "that America's 
high desire is for peace, and that the war does NOT lie in the hands of JAPAN 
nor in the hands of the anti-Comintern Confederation, nor in the hands of 
England, but in THE LAP OF THE UNITED STATES." 

Hearst's loyalty and support from the day Hitler took power in Germany 
has been with and for the fascists, whom he chooses to call "the anti-Comintern 
confederation." It was so then and it is so now. On the very day he published 
that editorial, Japanese aircraft carriers were at sea on their way to Pearl 
Harbor with full instructions. 



131 



THE CHALLENGE 
OF PEARL HARBOR 



(Daily Worker, December 17, 1941) 
{Report of a radio broadcast made at Los Angeles) 

I just stepped off the train on my way to San Francisco. 

I'm still somewhat out of breath. 

News of the bombings reached me on a railroad train rolling lazily across 
the plains of Texas. I was loafing from town to town, soaking up something 
of the life and character of the south. 

We got the news by radio, and I came racing homeward as if I were a 
responsible general coming to take command of the situation. 

As a matter of fact, I don't know exactly what I'm going to do — but I'm 
going to do something, and whatever it is it will be the best I can and as 
much as possible. 

That was the attitude of everyone on that train — Negro and white. I say 
Negro and white because it was a southern train, and because whatever friction 
may exist over Jim Crow laws in the south, the white and Negro populations 
are certainly united in defense of our country. 

First reaction to the news was disbelief. It seemed as fantastic as if we had 
tuned in on Mars. Within an hour everyone realized the truth. Those people 
were transformed completely. Whatever apathy or differences existed before, 
was gone. To a man, they had the feeling they wanted to report somewhere 
immediately for some kind of duty. 

That is what impelled me to give up my tour of the south and come racing 
home. It was an instinct felt by everyone aboard. 

I felt proud of the brotherhood and comradeship that developed instantly 
among my fellow Americans. Before, we had been friendly in a distant, in- 
dividual sort of way. Now we were a great family, ready to face a common 
challenge in a collective, cooperative way. 

Faces were serious, but there was no fear or panic. There was only strong 
determination and confidence in each other. Not a cocky, foolish confidence. 
A sober confidence that fully realized the terrible extent of the struggle and 
sacrifice ahead. 

Let me say that my observations, racing through several states and mingling 
with the greatest assortment of Americans, leads me to say that we face no 
problem of arousing morale in America. That morale is here, as strong, 

132 



brotherly and determined as the morale of the Russian people fighting the 
hordes of Hitler. 

The people of America, in their hearts and minds, took over this war at 
the explosion of the first bomb. There were indignant discussions aboard that 
train about the shipment of oil and scrap iron to Japan in recent years. Many 
other shortcomings of American policy were freely reviewed. But they were 
reviewed in the constructive manner of an aroused and fighting people who 
were determined to win this war and see to it that these abuses did not occur 
again. 

A strong American brotherhood is being forged in this situation — a broth- 
erhood I feel proud to be a part of — a brotherhood that must never again be 
lost to us — a brotherhood that we must preserve for all time to come. 

The problem now is not windy arguments to arouse or sustain morale. 
The problem now is what to do. People want to do something at once. Every 
hand is eager for a task. What can each man and woman do? 

Public and neighborhood meetings must be held on this subject imme- 
diately. The labor unions must play an important part — possibly the most 
important part, for this reason: the unions represent organized Americans — 
American men and women already organized. 

Fascism and the Japanese military machine represent powerful organiza- 
tion. They can only be defeated by an organized population cooperating in 
the fight. 

The unions are strategically constituted to perform the most important part 
in such public organization. They are a step ahead of the rest of the popula- 
tion which remains largely unorganized in any manner. They must step forward 
without delay. 

We are confronted by a terrible danger — a terrible challenge. We were 
unquestionably caught napping. But that nap is over, and in our common 
danger we have found overnight a brotherhood and comradeship of Amer- 
icans — a family spirit which was unfortunately mislaid in the clutching and 
grabbing for personal gain that gave us such pain and turmoil during peace. 

In closing, I raise again that question: What can we do? Let's all find out 
immediately and get busy. 



13! 




Book Three 



ALL OUT 
FOR VICTORY 



Wartime Tribute to Maritime Men 

Note: Because of Mike Quin's love of ships and admiration for seamen, 
whose profession he shared for several years, this special selection opens the 
period of all-out effort to win the war. 

YOU DO NOT SINK, 
BUT KILL A SHIP 

(People's World, December, 1939)' 

It is one thing to read the news and another to realize it. Close to 160 ships 
have been sunk in the war. How many people realize the full meaning of this? 

Only a seaman really knows what a ship is. The passenger is apt to be 
absorbed in the chatter and social life of the cabin. 

Out on the fo'csle head in a clear night, a silence that extends for thousands 
of miles is broken only by the rustle of the waves cut by the bow. You lie on 
the canvas hatch cover and look back amidship. The lighted portholes express 
snug comfort within. From the stack, a plume of smoke stands out against the 
stars. Eight bells sound from the bridge with startling clarity in the silence. 
The warm rhythm of the engines is felt in your body. 

A ship is a living thing — an organism of the steel responding to human 
hands. When the seas are heavy, its great bulk groans and trembles as the 
waves lift it. 

On bright days it is the exact center of a vast disc of blue water. Above, 
white clouds, like daubs of cotton, fleck the lighter blue of the sky. With its 
rhythm of warm life within it, and its expressionless cleaving through the 
water, the ship is like a great mother. 

Beneath it are abysmal depths, horrible to think about — so deep and dark 
neither sun nor imagination can penetrate them. All around is an expanse of 
water so vast that weeks of sailing find you still the center of the great disc 
of blue. 

But you are safe and snug on your ship — your mother. Her warm engines 
reassure you. Her yellow portholes are friendly in the night. You become 
intimate with her — know every companionway and cabin — every inch of her 
decks. You are a part of her — part of her life, like the corpuscles in a man's 
veins. 

At night she lulls you to sleep as she rolls in the waves, the springs of 

137 



your bunk straining and relaxing with every heave. When the winds blow 
madly and the waves lash over her decks, she groans with every impact, shivers, 
rises, and shakes off the seas with an angry hissing of her scuppers. 

The catsup bottles and sugar bowls go rolling down the messroom tables 
while the boys tip their soup bowls to avoid a spill. 

"Aye! She took it that time, old girl. Feel her shake?" 

Always the feeling that the old girl's doing her best — nosing the waves 
and plodding onward. 

Soon shell cut through clear seas again. In tropic weather the boys will 
lounge on her canvas hatch covers and watch the flying fish. There he goes! 
Out of the water — skim the surface — flop! 

Looking down at the plume of water where the stem cuts the waves, three, 
four — maybe a dozen porpoises streak along with the bow. A strange game 
they play. At night they cut the black water in phosphorescent streaks. 

The ship is the seaman's great mother — a composite of their collective 
being. 

You do not sink a ship — you kill it. You plunge a cruel knife into the 
heart of a living and beautiful thing. The ship is a giving organism and the 
seamen are its soul. 

A ship sinks with the agony of a dying thing. Her great hulk heaves and 
groans, her stern lifts, her screws point skyward — then with a loud bubbling 
and hissing horrible to bear, she lunges slowly to those dark abysmal depths. 

In her heart are all the humble tokens of her sons. Snapshots of girls and 
mothers tacked up in lockers, half-read books — half- written letters. Clothes, 
watches, souvenirs from foreign ports. 

And her sons? For some she left a last loving part of herself — a tiny life- 
boat bobbing in the waves, from which they watch her last, terrible dive — the 
warm fire of her engines turned to the agony of bursting boilers — the snugness 
of her cabins now a hell of chaos and terror. 

For others she left the little cork lifebelts that looked so commonplace in 
their racks for so many years. Now her boys are held floating in the waves by 
this last little embrace of their mother. 

For others — they go with her to the dark cheerless depths — their lives and 
souls choked out of them as hers. In her engine room and cabins — some of her 
boys go with her, down to the lightless depths. 

You don't sink a ship — you kill it. You murder a living and beautiful 
thing. 

Only a seaman understands that. 

Damned be the war and the men who make it. Their harvest will be 
famines and plagues and the awful sickness of disillusion. 

138 



MICKEY, THE BELFAST TERROR 

A sailofV-home is his ship and the rolling ocean is his vast front lawn. 
It's not what you'd call a very comfortable home, but none the less a congenial 
family spirit prevails in glory hole and fo'csle where each man has a narrow 
steel locker in which to keep his few belongings. Between the rows of bunks 
piled one on top of the other, there is a small strip of deck space — enough for 
one or two men to stand at a time. 

When you're lying in your own bunk with the steam pipes sweating and 
hissing over your head and your neighbor snoring just under you, and the 
rich, unventilated air weighting the atmosphere around, it has a cozy, homelike 
feeling. A battered alarm clock dangles from a string tied to a pipe. Pictures 
of dames are tacked up to the nearby bulkhead. You can feel the throb of 
the big engines in the springs of your bunk. If your quarters are aft, the crazy 
rattling and rumbling of the steering engine haunts your dreams and becomes 
as accustomed to your ears as the chirping of crickets to a suburban resident. 

The mess table itself is a combined family gathering place and open forum 
where every mouthful of beans or stew is richly seasoned with political argu- 
ments. While the food may not be up to mother's standard the conversation 
has all the hilarity of a family affair. 

The ship is really a rolling home, not so much for all these reasons as for 
one final touch that completes the picture. That final touch is the ship's cat. 

It's usually a scrawny one of mixed colors and ungainly shape; a four 
legged member of the crew who came aboard without bothering to sign 
articles. You can reach down, tickle its chin, rouse it to warm purring, and 
you know your ship is a home. For this was a vagrant, friendless creature who 
wandered aboard in search of a home and found one. Though roundly cursed 
on frequent occasions and made the target of a myriad of thrown articles, the 
cat knows it's a home and it has the warm legs of human friends against which 
to rub its furry body. 

Even if you change the name on the bow or fly a new flag from the stern, 
it's all the same to the cat. 

It was all the same to Blackie the cat of the "American Trader" when its 
owners sold the ship to a foreign interest for a fat profit. They painted out 
"American Trader" and replaced it with "Ville de Hasselt," and a different 
colored flag was hoisted on the stein pole. That was all right with Blackie. 

For a long time the word "war — war — war" had sounded in the argu- 
ments of Blackie's human shipmates. But her only language was the mewing 
of hunger or the purring of contentment. She didn't know that strange steel 
ships that travelled undersea were spewing iron fish at the rolling homes of 

140 



seamen, tearing their hulls like paper and sending them bubbling and roaring 
to the bottom of the sea. 

She didn't know that the friendly arguing voices in the fo'csle might one 
day scream in terror — that the warm legs against which she rubbed herself 
might one day struggle hopelessly in icy water. She didn't know about war. 

In port the gangplank went over the side and Blackie's human shipmates 
rumbled down it laughing and jostling. And Blackie, of course took shore 
leave too — took it as freely and carelessly as the men she lived with. Always 
she was back on sailing day, mewing around the galley, looking as bartered 
and pleasure-worn as the rest. 

On the ship's last voyage as the "American Trader" — before they painted 
a new name and flew a new flag, Blackie became uncommonly stout. Presently 
her condition was the joyous scandal of the entire vessel and she found herself 
the object of exceptional kindness and excessive attention. Her pan was heaped 
with unusual tidbits and a note of gentle respect was evident in the voices of 
her human shipmates. 

It was a merry day when fiy/e sprightly kittens frolicked on the good ship's 
decks, chased wads of paper tied to strings and battled fiercely with the 
fondling fingers of seamen. 

Gradually they acquired names and personalities and the liveliest of them 
all was Mickey, the Belfast Terror. 

When the ship returned to the docks of New York, Blackie was the proud- 
est mother on the seven seas, licking and pawing her brood and teaching them 
the ways of a cat with a crew. It was then that the name was painted over and 
the new flag strung up. Grim long boxes of rifles were loaded aboard. Grates 
of airplanes were made fast to her decks. 

Then the thing happened. A long shiny automobile that looked something 
like an ambulance drew up in front of the dock and well-dressed people came 
aboard. 

"We are from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals," they 
said, "and we have come for your cats." 

Ike, the steward, calmly told them to go to blazes. "This is their home," 
he said, "and they re kindly treated." 

"That's not the point," said the well-dressed gentle people. "You are 
sailing into the war zone and the lives of those cats are m danger." 

That stumped Ike. By this time a good number of the crew had gathered 
round. The first officer came down from the bridge. Yes, these people had 
the company's permission. Their papers were clear. Their authority beyond 
doubt. The cats must go. 1 

It was a terrified, clawing Blackie whom they carried down the gang plank 
and locked into the shiny automobile with four of her babies. No submarines — 

141 



no torpedoes or mines must endanger cats. But why do I say only four of 
Blackie's babies were taken? The fifth one was Mickey, the Belfast Terror 
whonTtEe^teward concealed in a cracker can. 

So Mickey sailed for the open sea on a ship that still was home. For there 
is no society for the prevention of sinking ships or drowning men. And if the 
crew goes down to the awful depths, Mickey will go with them, and there 
will be a cat in Davy Jones' locker — to make it a bit like home. 

And that happens, ladies and gentlemen, to be a true story of this cockeyed 
world of ours. 

Only a few days after this story was published in the People's World, 
the "Ville de Hasselt" was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic. Most of her 
boys went with her, down to the lightless depths. And Mickey went with them. 

For the cheated, lonely men of the sea, there is a cat in Davy Jones' locker, 
to make it a bit like home. 



LOUIE GETS OFF 

We have taken his shoes and his socks off 
And salvaged his pants and his coat, 
For your shipmates inherit your wardrobe 
When you die in an open boat. 

The coat is now warming the messboy, 
And the pants are already on Pete, 
For they both got away from the sinking 
Without even shoes on their feet. 

So the dead must give up to the living, 
And the living must dress from the dead, 
And Louie won't mind, for he's going 
Where the seaweed will clothe him instead. 

An hour ago he was raving 
That all of us guys were to blame 
For refusing to take him to Flat bush 
Where someone was stealing his dame. 






142 



He thought he was caught in a subway, 
And kept saying not to forget, 
If we'd phase let him off at Flatbush, 
And hadn't we come to it yet? 

It is strangely as if he had vanished, 
His body, with nothing on, 
Lies silently ready to bury. 
But Louie, somehow, is gone. 

We're trying to do this thing nicely, 
With a measure of kindness and pride. 
But we're conscious that all it amounts to 
Is throwing him over the side. 

Shore folks have a funeral with music 
And greenly-lawned burial parks. 
But what can you do in a lifeboat 
That's followed by man-eating sharks? 

Hell, it isn't the sound of the organ, 

Or flowers of any price; 

It's the love in the hearts of your comrades 

That makes any funeral nice. 

We understand Louie and love him. 
We're burying one of our own. 
His heartbreaks and faults were like ours. 
His life was the same as we've known. 

There are reasons as deep as the ocean 
Why seamen are part of each other, 
And reasons why maritime union men 
Refer to each other as "brother." 

The Mate had no Bible to read from, 
But he mumbles some words about God; 
About Heaven and glory and kindness, 
Then signals the deed with a nod. 



■ ■ -\ ■. ■-■ 



143 



There's a shove, and a grunt, and a lurch of the boat 
And Louie is gone in a splash. 

"Don't look back!" snaps the Mate. And we mind him, 
But our brains see the shark fins dash. 

It is quiet for awhile, and we're thinking. 
Then Charlie begins to cry 
In that jittery way that gets on your nerves. 
"Why don't somebody shut up that guy?" 

"Aw, shut up yourself. He ain't bothering us." 

"Pipe down. I ain't talking to you." 

The Mate sees a need for diversion 

And breaks out a biscuit or two. * 

A bro ken-off hunk of a biscuit, 
A few drops of water to drink. 
A thousand wide miles of the ocean, 
And plenty of time to think. 

To think about what killed Louie, 
And what has made hell of our lives, 
And is forcing a bloody nightmare 
On millions of guys and their wives. 

To think of the finks and the fascists, 
And all their unsatisfied dead; 
Of the anguish and conflict behind us, 
And still greater battles ahead. 

For a few of us guys will reach islands, 
And stagger our way to the beach. 
And God help the men who killed Louie 
When we get them into our reach. 

for we pledge on his grave of salt water, 
With all that our spirits can give: 
That the greed of all Hitlers shall perish, 
And the dreams that were Louie's shall live! 



144 



WHY, HE'S A NEGRO! 
SAYS O'BRIEN 



" Tis an awful thing," said Mr. O'Brien. "They dispatched a Negro out 
of the Marine Firemen's Union hall — put him on a ship as a wiper in the 
black gang." 

"And what's awful about it?" asked Mr. Murphy. 

"Why, he's a Negro," said Mr. O'Brien. 

"Well, what's awful about being a Negro?" asked Mr. Murphy. 

"There's nothing awful about being a Negro," said O'Brien. "It's perfectly 
all right to be a Negro. I never said it wasn't." 

"Then what is so awful?" asked Murphy. 

"They dispatched him to the ship, that's what, as a member of the engine 
crew." 

"Well, what did he do?" 

"He didn't do anything, Murphy. He just went aboard and signed the 
articles. I didn't say he did anything, did I?" 

"Then what are you kicking about?" 

"What am I kicking about? He's a Negro." 

"Well, what's the difference?" 

"What's the difference? What do you mean what's the difference? Can't 
you tell a Negro when you see one? His skin is black." 

"What's so awful about that?" 

"Murphy, why do you twist up everything I say? I didn't say it was awful. 
I just said he was a Negro." 

"Then what in the devil are you kicking about? Doesn't he do his work 
all right?" 

"Certainly he does his work all right. That's not the point." 

"Then what is the point?" 

"The point is, he's a Negro." 

"Well, you're not going to hold that against him, are you?" 

"I'm not holding it against him. He's got just as much right to be a Negro 
as I have to be a white man. God made us all. I don't hold it against any man 
because of his race. All I say is it doesn't mean I've got to work with him 
and share the crew's quarters with him." 

"Why not?" 

"What do you mean, why not? Why should we?" 

"He's a fellow American and a fellow human being. That's why. Is there 
anything wrong with him?" 

145 



"What do you mean, is there anything wrong with him?" 
"I mean as a human being. Is he objectionable in any way?" 
,,v N57~there's nothing wrong with him. I didn't say there was." 
"Then why shouldn't you work with him and share your quarters with 
him? What difference does it make?" 

"What difference does it make? Do you think Negroes are as good as you 
are, Murphy?" 

"In what respect?" 

"In any respect." 

"Some of them are as good, O'Brien, some of them are better, and some 
of them are worse. Some of them are better in some respects and worse in 
others. And I guess some are better in all respects." 

"What the hell are you talking about now, Murphy?" 

"Well, you take Joe Louis. He's a better fighter than I am. But I'm a 
better plumber than he is. Paul Robeson can sing better than I can and he is 
better educated than I am. He seems to have more courage, too. I think he's 
better than me in every respect. There are others that I am better than. It all 
depends upon what you are talking about." 

"Aye, but they're exceptional, Murphy. I mean the average run." 

"Well, you're the average run as seamen go, O'Brien." 

"I admit that, Murphy. I'm not saying I'm a genius. I'm the average man — 
no more, no less." 

"And how about this Negro you're talking about. Is he average?" 

"Yes, I'd say he was average — just an average Negro." 

"Aye, and they tell me he's a better mechanic than you are." 

"Now, don't get into personalities, Murphy." 

"They also tell me he is very good natured — much better natured than you 
are, O'Brien. As a matter of fact, you have a very nasty temper. You know 
that." 

"Are you trying to say he is a better man than me?" 

"In some respects I hear he is." 

"I said nothing against him, Murphy. You have no right to put it on a 
personal basis. I have nothing against him personally at all. As a matter of 
fact, he's a fine man." 

"Then what are you complaining about?" 

"I'm not complaining. I just pointed out that he's a Negro." 

"Well, you have other Negroes in the engine crew." 

"We certainly do not." 

"You do, too. What about Jones?". 

"Jones is not a Negro. He's a Puerto Rican. He has papers to prove it." 

"His skin is black." 

146 



"Well, that's nothing to hold against a man, Murphy." 

"Then why hold it against Negroes?" 

"I'm not holding it against them, Murphy. Why do you twist the words 
in my mouth? I have nothing against them at all. God made us all, and who 
am I to judge?'* 

"Then if a man is a good worker and a good guy you don't care what 
color his skin is or what race he is. You are perfectly glad to work with him?" 

"Certainly. No. Yes. No. What am I talking about? How did we get 
started on this?" 

"You were telling me about the Negro they dispatched to the ship. You 
said he was a very fine guy." 

"Yes, he is. A very fine guy. Wait a minute. Did I say that? Yes, I guess 
I did. He is a fine guy, Murphy. A very fine guy. You couldn't ask for a better 
shipmate. Of course some of the men are narrow minded, but that's to be 
expected. They'll get sense in their heads, Murphy. Mark my words." 



SOME OTHER SHIP 

(By Paul Ryan in the S. F. Chronicle, April 11, 1943J 

It was one of those restaurants lined with white tile, where the patrons 
belly-up to a steam table, have their orders filled on aluminum trays, then back 
away awkwardly for a table. The tables were long, accommodating many 
parties. What I mean is, you get individual tables. 

The three of us groped around with our loaded trays until we found three 
vacant chairs together. Then we began to eat and talk, gesturing with pieces 
of bread, and paying no attention to the other people at the tables. 

"I just got a new ship," said Joe, in the same tone of voice as if he had 
purchased it out of his savings. "It's a beauty. I'll be sailing in a week or so." 

"Do they guarantee it's unsinkable?" asked Harry. 

"They don't guarantee nothing," said. Joe. "You take your chances in a 
war." 

"I got a new jacket here," said Harry. "Next trip I'm shipping on deck and 
I need warm clothes." 

"You ever been up around Murmansk?" I asked. 

"No, but Jeff has. You know Jeff, don't you? Kind of short little guy. Sure, 
you know him. He even took a course in gunnery before he went." 

"That's a tough trip." 

"That sure is a tough trip." 

147 



"Cold as hell/' 

"A course in gunnery isn't a bad thing to take any time." 

"Last trip we studied gunnery for two days in the South Pacific. Flew a 
big kite and shot at it with twenty millimetre guns. Shot about a million times 
and hit it four times." 

"Well, you gotta figure a kite's smaller than a plane." 

"Yeah, but it stands still for you." 

"Sure, it stood still. It was a beautiful day. Nice clear sky. Not a ripple. 
You know the South Pacific." 

"But a plane that's coming right at you, that's the same as standing still 
because it stays on one level." 

"Doggone. You remember that ship, the S ? I was on her in New 

York. They had a dog they'd picked up someplace, and he sure was a wonder. 
They had him trained so when the alarm bell rang he'd run through the pas- 
sageways barking and waking the guys up. He could hear an airplane long 
before anybody else. And when he heard an airplane, he'd go crazy, barking 
and waking everybody up." 

"That was a swell ship." 

"It sure was a hell of a swell ship." 

"What's this you signed on, a Liberty ship?" 

"Yeah. Brand new. A beauty." 

"How are those Liberty ships? Of equal quality, or some of them good and 
some of them bad?" 

"Some of them good and some of them bad. It all depends." 

"They stay afloat good, though. Hard to sink." 

"The watertight compartments are good." 

"Not like some of these ships." 

"You remember the X , don't you? I sailed in convoy with her a 

few months ago. We came back, but she stayed down there ferrying supplies, 
and now she's sunk. Went down like a rock, they say." 

A strange, elderly voice intervened from our left. 

"What did you say the name of that ship was?" 

We all shut up quickly. 

He was an elderly man with a red nose and scraggly, thinning hair. He 
was fairly well dressed and wore gold-rimmed glasses. His eyes looked as if 
he was going to cry. 

Joe, who had been doing the talking, looked at him, looked at us, looked 
back at him, then looked away. A kind of awkward silence had fallen. 

"Gosh, I ought to learn to keep my mouth shut," he said. 

"What did you say was the name of that ship?" asked the elderly man, 
insistently. 

148 



We were quiet for another moment, then Joe snapped out of it. "I don't 
know, mister. Never heard of it. Don't know a thing about it. Get the idea?*' 

"You must tell me," said the man. "I have a boy on that ship. I'm quite 
sure it was the one you mentioned. What did you say the name of it was? I. 
didn't quite catch it." 

"Listen, mister," Joe said, "now let's see. Gosh, I ought to keep my moutH 
shut." He looked frantically to us for advice. We didn't say anything. So he 
knew he was on his own. 

"Ill tell you, mister," he continued. "When did your boy sail?" 

"It was three months ago. I haven't heard a word from him. I think my 
boy was on that ship." 

"Was it a freighter or a passenger ship?" 

"A freighter." 

"Well, then it couldn't be this one. You see this was a passenger ship. No, 
it wasn't the same one at all. You can't sink those little freighters. This was a 
passenger ship." 

"The name sounded the same." 

"Oh, no. You've just got it mixed up." 

"My boy's been gone about three months now and I haven't heard from 
him." ' 

"Hell, that's nothing, mister. That don't mean a thing. Why, that's the 
commonest thing there is. Mail, you know gets all mixed up. When 1 was 
gone five months once and nobody got a word from me. Letters all went 
astray. You remember that, don't you, Harry?" 

"Sure. It's nothing. Three months ain't nothing." 

'T could have sworn it was the ship you mentioned " 

"It couldn't be. Look, mister, how could it be? This was a passenger ship. 
It was an entiretiy different ship. Honest, it wouldn't be the one." 



PISTACHIO, FOR THE LOVE 
OF MIKE 

(People's Woeld, July, 1942) 

"What are we going in here for?" asked Jerry, 

"Never mind," said old Andy. "Just watch your language and shut up. 
There are children in here." 

"But this is an ice cream parlor/' said Felix. **Wbat axe we doing in an 
ke cream parlor^" 

149 



"Ice cream is delicious," said Pete. "Besides it's nourishing." 

^Took," said Ed. "Look at the — look." 

She was worth looking at too. 

"Lay off that stuff," said old Andy. "We don't want any of that stuff 
either." 

"What stuff either?" asked Jerry. 

"Sex," said old Andy. "Sex and booze. We're off both of them." 

"You're off your nut," said Ike. 

"Listen," said old Andy. "From now on it's ice cream and no dames. We've 
caused all the trouble we're going to." 

"What trouble?" asked Felix. 

"Trouble with the decent people," said old Andy. "Mike Quin's been 
catching hell because of us. Here we go, rolling in and out of gin mills, eyeing 
up the dames, making risky cracks — " 

"Riskay, you mean," said Ed. 

"All right, riskay. Call it what you please," said old Andy. "The People's 
World has a fund drive on. They're trying to keep going in order to make a 
world in which everybody will have a sense of humor and be pals. That's more 
important than us swilling a lot of beer." 

"Beer is nourishing too," said Pete. 

"Don't change the subject," said old Andy. "We're talking about ice cream. 
The readers have been writing in saying we're beer bums and that Mike Quin 
should go crawl in a beer barrel and pull the bung in after him." 

"Well, maybe he should," said Jerry. 

"What'll you have, kids?" asked the girl, wiping the table and leaning 
over a bit too far for purposes of reform — but, that's how it goes. 

"What's this All Out Banana Blitz?" asked Ike. 

"Well, you take a scoop of raspberrry ice cream, a scoop of orange ice, 
and a scoop of tutti frutti," she said. "Then you spill chocolate, pineapple and 
pistachio syrup over it. Cover the whole with sliced bananas, add whipped 
cream, chopped nuts, cherries and chopped figs." 

"I'll take one," said Ike. 

"For crisakes," said Ed. "You'll break out with pimples." 

"You'll get boils," said Pete. 

"What the hell," said Ike. "This is for the People's World." 

"You're an extremist," said Jerry. "Bring me a dish of vanilla ice cream." 

"Are you gonna poop out on us at a time like this?" asked Felix. 

"A lousy dish of vanilla ice cream. Do you think that's gonna make up 
for all your boozing?" asked Pete. 

"Well, you can put a little pineapple syrup on it," said Jerry, "But that's 
all." 

150 



"A piker," said Ed. 

''Bring me one of these Hawaiian Passion Fruit Eruptions," said Pete, 
"and I don't care what it is." 

"Swish, swish," said the girl. "You boys are a little on the lavender side, 
aren't you?" 

"Well, I like that," said Ed. "It happens every time. Let a bum try to be 
respectable and they call him a panty waist." 

"That ends it," said Jerry, "I won't take nothing." 

"You ain't gonna let Mike down are you?" asked old Andy. 

"I ain't gonna let Mike down!" said Jerry. "That's a choice one." 

"What the hell do you think we are?" asked Ed. "We sail ships through 
the war zone, we get decks blasted from under us, we drift around in open 
boats, we sleep with the cockroaches, we get the go-by and the up-nose from 
all the decent people — or so-called decent — while all the time this Mike Quin 
sits on his dead bird in an office writing about us. If the son of a buzz saw 
ever sat in a draft he'd get pneumonia. To hell with him and his readers, too." 

"I'm inclined to agree with you," said Ike. "Cancel that All Out Banana 
Blitz, sister." 

"Listen," said Pete, "I ain't running on any booze ticket. Hell, you see the 
way I try to steer the young kids away from the bars. But I've had my sit- 
downery kicked from Hoboken to Hong Kong. Life ain't easy and I found it 
the way it is. I'll do anything to make it better. Why the hell do you think 
I'm sailing ships through torpedoes and mines? I'll do anything to make it 
better." 

"Meanwhile I'm the way I am. I like a glass of beer. When a dame goes 
by, I notice it. I'm lonely, for crisakes, and I'm not a bum. I agree with Ed and 
Jerry and Ike. Come on fellows. It's too late for chocolate sundaes." 

"It's right," said Felix. "If Mike wants to write about seamen, let him 
write about seamen, and not a lot of baloney. For that matter, if he's an angel 
he's got his name carved in a lot of peculiar places. He was a seaman once 
himself." 

"But the readers," began old Andy. 

"The readers better get busy 'and holler for a second front," said Ike. 
"Meanwhile; we homeless guys will 'keep 'em sailing,' so that the home folks 
can have their homes. And if they begrudge us a glass of beer — well that's 
Mike Quin's worry." , 

"Let's chip in and buy him a Hawaiian Passion Fruit Eruption," said Pete. 



151 



GODDAM THEM ALL 

Goddam them,, so! Goddam them all! 
I'm sixty-five today. 

And they have kicked my ramp around 
From Brooklyn to Bombay. 

What's that you say? Torpedoes 
From a German submarine? 
Why, I was blasted once before 
In 1917. 

Don't push me, lad. I'm sixty-jive. 
I sailed once round the Horn 
And knew the girls in Singapore 
Before you kids were born. 

I'm drunk you say? The old boy's cracked? 
The ship is going down? 
Unless you shove me in the boat 
I'll stay aboard and drown? 

Move Over then. I'll show you what, 
I've been through this before. 
I'm getting sick and tired of these 
Indignities of war. 

A birthday celebration 
Would be quite a cold affair 
With fishes all around my head 
And seaweed in my hair! 

Aye, there are educated men 

Who never go to sea, 

And spend their time inventing things 

To kill the likes of me. 

And they live richly on the land, 
Secure from every storm; 
With scotch and bourbon on the shelf 
And dames to keep them warm. 



152 



And they have no respect for age 
Or anything alive, 
To try to drown a poor old man 
The day he's sixty -five. 

Move over, Buster. Bless my soul, 
You youngsters are so fat 
There's hardly room inside a boat 
To sit an old man's pratt. 

For fifty lousy years or more 
I've sailed upon the seas, 
And all I have to show for it 
Is dirty dungarees. 

Complaining? Yes. Who wouldn't kick? 

I'll always give full measure. 

In ivork and war and duty, 

But I'm damned if it's a pleasure. 

Patriotic? Listen here my boy, 
I'll keep them sailing free, 
And no damned Nazi submarine 
Can scare me off the sea. 

But once I asked the owner 
To install a ventilator. 
'Tis communistic talk, said he, 
And you're an agitator. 

And once they gave me thirty days 
And fifty dollars fine 
For carrying a banner 
In a union picket line. 

Shut up, you say? The past is past? 
Well, truly son, I doubt it. 
The past is always on your neck 
And that's what's xvrong about it. 



153 



Aye, some men would forget the past 
Because it's so unpleasant. 
But adding up the past, my boy, 
Is how you get the present. 

Morale, you say, and win the war? 
I've bet my flesh and bone 
That this damned war is different 
And the people's very own. 

I signed aboard that freighter, son, 
And climbed into my bunk 
With full and certain knowledge 
It was liable to be sunk. 

It gripes me to be conscious 
If we went to Davey Jones! 
Some owner would make profit 
On the marrow of my bones. 

But I'm counting on the people, son, 
To guarantee the war. 
And see that everybody gets 
The things we're fighting for. 

My life has been a washout 
From the time I was a kid; 
And more for what was done to me 
Than anything I did. 

Aye, once I tried to beat their game 
And saved up quite a poke, 
And banked it for the future, 
But the goddam bank went broke. 

My fault, you say, and I'm to blame? 
Aye, no man is so blind 
As he who sits and kicks his own 
Quite innocent behind. 

You can't accuse the world, you say, 
Because your luck was bad? 
No accident or gamble can 
Explain the luck I've had. 



154 



My work was more, my profit less, 
Than any man alive. 
And now they're trying to drown me 
At the age of sixty-five. 

You're asking who 1 mean by "they"? 
Well, bless my guiding star! 
'Tis your young generation, son, 
Who'll find out who they are. 

My own sad generation toiled 

Its weary life away 

Just vaguely understanding 

That there was a "we" and "they" . 

Aye, "they" built Mr. Hitler up, 
Financed the war machine, 
And sent those rats to sink me 
In a Nazi submarine. 

By God, I've seen Hob ok en cops 
Show more respect for drunks, 
Than I receive at sixty-five 
From those young Nazi punks. 

Look sharp now, son! She's going down. 
The storm is lifting high. 
She's pointing her propeller 
At the blueness of the sky. 

Goddam them-, son! Goddam them all! 
The murdering men called "they" , 
Who nursed and fed the nazi beast 
And made us all its prey. 

They've killed a gallant lady 
With their homicidal arts, 
And cast her loving sons adrift 
With vengeance in their hearts. 

How slow she sinks — with dignity. 
She's waving us goodbye. 
I'd rather see my soul in hell 
Than watch a good ship die. 



155 



The Workers and the War Effort 



MURPHY ON SHIPYARD SNOOPERS 



(People's World, December, 19-41) 

"How can we build the ships faster with a pack of Peeping Toms on our 
necks?" asked Mr. O'Brien. 

"You mean spies?" asked Mr. Murphy. 

"No, I don't mean spies," said O'Brien. "I mean watchers, peekers, 
snoopers." 

"And what have they got to do with it?" 

"Every time you lay down a wrench, Murphy, there is one of them peeking 
around a corner ready to report you for loafing." 

"Then don't lay down the wrench and you'll be all right," said Murphy. 

"You think that's a smart thing to say, don't you? Well that's exactly 
what we do. Instead of finishing a job as fast as we can, we make the job 
last so we won't be caught in between with idle time." 

"What do you mean idle time?" 

"Well, building a ship, Murphy, is not like making automobiles on a 
belt line. First you're doing one thing, and then you're doing another. First 
you're in one part of the ship and then in another. Sometimes you've got to 
wait for a tool. Sometimes you've got to wait for another gang to finish their 
job before you can get at yours. There are all sorts of waits and delays. If you 
work too fast, you'll find yourself standing around for ten minutes, and one 
oi these company peekers will spot you and turn you in." 

"You mean the company has observers to. report loafing?" 

"That's so, Murphy, and the men are paying more attention to not being 
caught by a peeker than they are to doing the job. Yesterday I had to install 
a few pipes. I made the job last all morning so as not to be stuck with loose 
time. Another fellow was waiting for me to finish so that he could go ahead 
with his work. In order to look like he was busy, he kept threading and re- 
threading one pipe for hours. He didn't dare do nothing." 

"But what about the actual loafers, O'Brien?" 

"They are not many, Murphy, and if the company would cooperate rightly, 
we would weed out the loafers ourselves. These peekers don't get the real 
loafers. They are too clever. Only the men on the job know how to spot real 
loafers." 

156 



"Then you think that by removing these snoopers and putting the men 
under democratic self -discipline it would speed the work?" 

"I know it for a fact, Murphy. Take those Peeping Toms off our necks 
so that an honest worker can lay down his wrench and wipe the sweat from 
his brow without being reported as a loafer. Fix it so a man can pay all atten- 
tion to his work and doesn't have to keep one eye peeled for a watcher. It 
will speed up the work by one-third at least." 

"You are sure of this?" 

"I am positive, Murphy. Take my own job. For three weeks I have been 
trying to break in and keep a decent helper. I've had four. As fast as I get 
them, they fire them. I can't keep a helper sweating every minute of the day. 
The work doesn't go like that. Many times he has to stand by for ten or 
twenty minutes. And what happens? The snooper spots him and he's fired. 
It's crazy, Murphy. Lately I have taken to thinking up silly things to keep my 
helper busy, or looking like he's busy. It wastes my time and slows the work." 

"Why don't you take the matter up through your union?" 

"You know my union, Murphy. It's asleep on its feet." 

"Then why don't you wake it up? Get together with the other men on 
the job. Propose joint conferences between the company and the workers. 
Draw up a plan of self-discipline to take the place of the snoopers. Have it 
printed in your union paper. Elect a committee to^ present it to the manage- 
ment." 

"I'm no good at that kind of thing, Murphy." 

"You've never even tried." 

"Well, why should I stick my neck out?" 

"Because this is your country and this is a. war, and such nonsense as you 
are beefing about interferes with winning the war. Working conferences of 
management- and labor are the only way to overcome these difficulties." 

"It's not so easy as you think, Murphy." 

"I don't care how hard it is, O'Brien. It's got to be done. Nothing is going 
to be easy. Things are going to get tougher. But we Americans are betting on 
ourselves because we think we've got what it takes, not only to win this war, 
but to face and solve the, desperate soda! problems which will follow it. 
We've got a tough future ahead. But we're a tough people." 



157 



O'BRIEN PRACTICES JU-JITSU 

(People's World, December, 1941) 

"Get up off the floor, O'Brien. What are you trying to do? Wrap yourselt 
in the rug?" 

O'Brien eyed Murphy wildly. "Leave me alone," he growled. "I am 
practising Hari Kari so's 1 can strangle those Japs with their own method." 

"Hari Kari is sticking a knife in your stomach after you have lost your 
face," said Murphy. 

"Is that so? Then what am I doing?" 

"I haven't the slightest idea," said Murphy. 

"It must be something else then," said O'Brien, pausing in the act of 
twisting his own foot. "Hocus pocus, or something like that. You tie men up 
in knots with a flip of your finger." 

"You mean Ju Jitsu," said Murphy. " 'Tis Japanese wrestling." 

"That's it. I'll tear them limb from limb." He renewed his attack on his 
own foot. 

' 'Twould be more sensible to work harder in the shipyard and enlist in 
the civilian defense." 

"Anybody can do that," said O'Brien. "I'm going to deal with them 
directly." 

"And how will you get to them?" asked Murphy. "They said you were 
too old when you tried to enlist." 

"I'll start on that Jap pants presser down the street. I'll strangle him in 
his own shop. I'll teach those Japs some civilized manners." 

"Then you'd better let go of your foot and get after him," said Murphy, 
"or he'll be gone." 

"Gone?" O'Brien straightened out in alarm. "Where would he go to? 
He won't get far. Just let me get my hands on him. Hand me my coat, Murphy. 
Which way did he go?" 

"He enlisted in the United States Army," said Murphy. "The government 
sent for him immediately. He's to be attached to the Intelligence Service." 

O'Brien blinked his eyes in disappointment and amazement. "You mean 
he's going to fight his own people?" 

"You are his own people, O'Brien, and so are the Garibaldis across the 
street, and the Cohens upstairs, and the MacGregors next door, and the Smiths 
around the corner. This is not a war of race against race, or nationality against 
nationality. It is a war of all right-minded people against fascist oppression." 

"But he's a Jap," complained O'Brien, 

158 



"And you're an Irishman and Smith is an Englishman, and Cohen is a 
Jew, and MacGregor is Scotch, but we're all Americans, united by principles 
of freedom and democracy. That's what makes America. And Koromoto is an 
American too. He was born here and this is his country." 

"But think of the fifth column, Murphy. If we don't clamp down on the 
Japs in this country, how are we going to tell the good ones from the bad?" 

"They will all be clamped down on and watched, so to speak — the good 
ones as well as the bad. But this will be done by our government in an effi- 
cient, sensible manner for the protection of all. It will not be done by bone- 
heads like you setting out to strangle men who might be better Americans 
than you are yourself, and more important to the defense efTort." 

"Nobody is a better American than me, and I am not a bonehead, Murphy. 
I was just going to grab him by the scrape of the neck and ask him what the 
hell these Japs mean by dropping bombs on Americans. I was not going to 
strangle him. I just meant that as a figure of speech." 

"Then get up off the floor and stop playing with your root. Have you 
blacked out your windows yet?" 

"No." 

"Have you contacted the civilian defense to see how you can help?" 

"One thing at a time, Murphy. I thought I'll just master this Hari Kari 
business and — " 

"Have you attended your union meeting to discuss ways of increasing pro- 
duction in the yards?" 

"By heaven, Murphy, I am only one man." 

"So was Abraham Lincoln, O'Brien. But he had a way of doing the best 
he could." 



WARTIME MARRIED LIFE 

"Get up," she said. "It's five o'clock." 
"Huh?" he grunted. 
"I said get up. It's five o'clock/' 
"Huh? What's the matter?" he grunted. 
"It's five o'clock. Get up." 

"What's the matter with you? What time is it?" he asked. 
"It's five o'clock," she said. "Get up." 

"What? Five o'clock? What?" He reached for the alarm, looked at it, 
and saw nothing. "It's still dark." 

"Certainly it's dark. Get up. It's five o'clock." 



159 



*The alarm didn't ring." 
^"Yes it did. I turned it off., Get up. It's five o'clock." 

"Get up yourself. Then I'll, get up." 

"You get up. It's five o'clock." 

"Then why don't you get up?" . 

"You get up," she said. "Then I'll get up-" 

"You go ahead and get up," he said. "Then I'll get right up." 

"No, you get up first." 

"Why should I get up first? You get up." 

"What difference does it make? Go ahead and get up." 

"You've got to get up," she said, in a provoked voice. "It's five o'clock. 
Now get up." 

"Well, I'm going to get up," he said. "J ust l eave me alone for a minute. 
You get up, then I'll get up." 

They got qp. 

In the dark and cold they groped for light switches, then went staggering 
around like groggy bugs, looking for clothes piled on chairs, tables and the 
floor. 

He picked up a brassiere, stared at it stupidly, then handed it to her. She 
nibbed her nose and felt around the loor for her slippers. He picked up a 
sock and studied it like he'd never seen one before. 

"I wish they'd open up a second front," he said. 

"I'm going to wear one of your shirts," she said. 

"Go ahead. I can't tell your clothes from mine any more. Last thing I ever 
expected to be married to is a welder." 

"Well, at least I'm not on the swing shift any more," she said. 

"Thanks for that much. Where's the orange juicer?" 

"This house is a lousy mess." 

"Don't let that worry you. We'll clean it up some day. Maybe this week-end. 
Where's the orange juicer?" 

"I don't think this cream is any good." 

"Don't change the subject. Where's the ©range juicer?" 

"Under the shelf. I wonder what they're putting in the coffee. It tastes 
like dirt. Have you noticed?" 

"I wish they'd ©pen a second front," 

"Turn on the radio. Maybe they have."* 

"If they'd only open a goddam second front. I'd feel like we were getting 
somewhere. Last night it was the same. I build ships all night long." 

"I was too tired to dream anything." 

"All day long I build ships. And then a.ll night long I build them in my 
sleep." 

160 



"You better see a psychiatrist." 

"There's one working on our hull. He's a pipefitter's helper." 

"Look, dear, look. It's getting light. Isn't it beautiful?" 

"This Saturday night I'm going to get drunk." 

"That's what you said last Saturday, and you were so tired you took one 
drink and fell asleep." 

"It is beautiful, isn't it. I like that blue light." 

"I've poured your coffee. Turn on the radio. You ought to have that 
button sewed on." 

"Maybe you'll get time to weld it. Modern times. It was a lovely picnic 
and the ladies brought their welding. Mrs. Higgins won the prize for the 
prettiest boiler-making. Mrs. Jones was riveting a tiny bootie and blushed when 
everyone asked when the happy event would be." 

"Shut up. You're going crazy. Turn on the radio." 

There were a few preliminary scratches of the static, then a booming voice: 
"Yes, Sir, friend. This is your war. Your war and my war. Everybody's war. 
And it's all out effort that's needed to win it. All out and no slackers in the 
drive to preserve democracy. Do you realize friends, what your democracy 
means to you?" 

"Oh, shut up, shut up, shut up," he said. 

"Yes, Sir," continued the voice. "And the surest way to victory is to start 
out every day with a big, brimming bowl of Corn Skookies, made of big, whole 
kernels of rich golden corn. Yes, Sir, friend." 

"I wish to Christ they'd leave our morale alone and open a second front— 
or any kind of a front for that matter. Hell, there's nothing wrong with our 
morale." 

"Somebody got out a petition in our yard," she said. "I signed it." 

"It's a good idea. For krisake this war is all morale and no front. All these 
baloneys on the radio trying to make us realize what this war means and why 
we have to fight it. Who the hell doesn't realize that the war is serious, every- 
body does." 

"Drink your coffee, you've got to go." 

"I know. But give us a front and we'll show them. The public's yelling 
bloody murder for a second front and all these baloneys do is talk morale. 
Morale, morale, morale. Give us a second front. We'll furnish the morale." 

"That's a nice speech. Now finish your coffee and we've got to go." 

"I wish we worked in the same damn yard. Hell, I don't ever see you any 
more. I'm finished. Let's go. Don't forget your gloves. You're the funniest 
looking wife I ever saw. Did you turn off the gas? Well, come on then. Let's 
go." 

161 



AT LAST! JOBS FOR ALL 

This isn't intended to reflect adversely on our war effort, but a lot of 
people are so happy to be working that it somewhat embarasses them. Under 
the circumstances, it makes them nervous. 

They are absolutely sincere in their war effort. They are determined to win. 
They wouldn't want to prolong the war one minute to keep their jobs. At the 
same time, rallying to the all out production effort for them was not a matter 
of abandoning peaceful and satisfactory pursuits in order to sweat for victory. 

They had been wanting jobs for years, and in spite of the gravity of the 
war, they can't help but feel glad to get them. 

I know one young fellow who graduated from school into the depression, 
and went seven years without a job. Some of the time he spent in a CCC 
camp. The rest of the time he searched desperately for employment, but his 
inexperience was against him. 

For a while he worked for nothing in order to learn a trade. He learned 
it and discovered that hundreds of highly skilled men in that line were 
jobless, and he didn't have a chance. 

Newspaper editorials and the ranting of bigoted people finally convinced 
him he was no good — that there was something wrong with him. He became 
demoralized. He was terribly lonely but couldn't get a girl. His clothes were 
run down. He had to bum nickels from relatives and friends for carfare. Seven 
years of that, mind you. 

Along came the war and he got a job as a helper in a shipyard. He was so 
happy about it and eager to do good work that he became a journeyman within 
a very short time. Then he became a leaderman. Now he's a foreman. 

He is married and spends his time off fixing up his home. He has wanted 
a home and a wife for so long that he can't help but feel happy, in spite of 
the fact that he realizes the horror of the war and the importance of victory. 

I know another fellow who is physically handicapped. He has been decay- 
ing on the human junk heap for ten years. He sort of gave up. As a result of 
the war he has been able to get a modest janitor's job, is able to take treatment 
for his ailment, and is completely transformed. The nervousness and despair 
has gone out of his face, and his eyes are beginning to twinkle. 

These cases are only one phase of the war, and can be countered by thou- 
sands of other examples of broken homes and ruined lives. Nevertheless, this 
strange, ironic happiness exists. It isn't a full fledged happiness, because it is 
shadowed by too many uncertainties and consecrated in the blood of brave 
men. But it's there just the same. 

The apparent prosperity will be negated by taxes and rising costs of 

162 



living, but even this does not stifle the irresistible satisfaction of having work 
and wages. It's something like wanting a thing all your life and suddenly 
getting it under the most awful circumstances. 

That's all people wanted; a chance to work and earn their livings. And 
that's what they want after the war. 

The men who are going round and round the mulberry bush on the question 
of what kind of world we want, and what kind of peace, ought to be told this. 

The myth that our unemployed were out of work because they lacked 
initiative or were lazy has been trampled under the feet of millions marching 
to work on the first opportunity. 

For another thing, people are eating. The apparent food shortage is not 
because production has fallen off. Production has increased tremendously. And 
it's not because we're shipping food to our Allies. That's only a drop in the 
bucket. Australia is providing ninety per cent of the food for our troops down 
there. 

The plain fact is that our people are eating. One third of our population 
was undernourished, and now they're eating properly both in and out of the 
army, as a result of which we find that far from having surpluses, we have 
shortages. ♦ 

Coffee and sugar, of course have other explanations. But not meat and 
other food products. 

Except for the boys who are dying at the front, the men who were drafted 
from good jobs, and the seamen being torpedoed on merchant vessels, 
America's all out for production effort is a windfall and not a sacrifice. 

Do you wonder some people feel confused and sick at heart? 

And over this whole fantastic scene hovers a nervousness and insecurity 
about the future, win, lose or draw. Most workingmen will tell you— and most 
soldiers too — that they expect a terrible depression and a lot of trouble when 
it is all over. 

These are facts and anyone who sincerely wants strong, confident morale 
in this country will have to look them in the face. We need vigorous state- 
ments from our leaders to this effect that there will not be unemployment and 
trouble after this war. We need the chance to work and earn our livings 
written clearly into the war aims with sincere guarantees. 

All Americans feel that fascism is a dirty insane beast and they are deter- 
mined to kill it. At the same time they are not sure we're any Knight in Armor. 
They have the negative side of morale all right — the conviction that the 
enemy is no good. But they do not have the positive side — confidence in our- 
selves and the promise of a better future. 

We've got to get that. We've got to build it, and live by it. But it can't 
be built on air. 

163 



Lest We Forget 



TOM MOONEY 

At 2:30 a.m., on the morning of March 6, 1942, Tom Mooney closed 
his eyes on a life of hard steel struggle and cold stone sacrifice. 

He picked the toughest job on the list, leading the working poor in a fight 
for a better life. The job promised nothing in personal reward. The power to 
punish or reward lay in the hands of the unscrupulous forces he challenged. 

"Fall in line, Tom Mooney — play ball with the boys above. Keep your 
mouth shut and you'll get the rewards. Buck us and all the cruelty of which 
we are capable will fall on your head. We'll crush you and defame you, and 
make your name a bitter and ugly thing in the memory of men." 

That was the proposition that faced him, and he headed right into it with 
unwavering strength. For there was one warm thing he had in his life that 
nobody could take away from him — his love and confidence in the common 
man. 

The punishment came more merciless than most men could endure, but 
his head took it unbowed, battling their wrath like a great ship taking the 
waves. And that warm light inside him swelled to a great beacon of strength 
and confidence giving warmth and light to the whole world of labor. 

Not shame or hatred, but love and confidence radiated from his name. 
He ceased to be an ordinary man and became a symbol of courage. Through 
his confidence in labor, he gave labor confidence in itself. 

No story in the records of man ever ran into so many words or covered so 
much paper. Yet no story was ever more simple. 

Tom Mooney was organizing the streetcar workers of San Francisco. The 
private utilities were waging a drive for the open shop. The two were in 
head-on collision. 

That was in 1916. The world was at war, but the United States had not 
yet entered. On July 22, a Preparedness Day parade was held on Market 
Street. A bomb exploded killing ten people on the side lines. 

Tom Mooney and his wife were a mile and a quarter away on the roof of 
a building watching the parade, as was ultimately proven beyond question. 
There was a photograph including Tom and his wife and a jeweler's clock 
giving the hour. 

Martin Swanson, an ex-Pinkerton employed by the Market Street Railway 
was then engaged in trying to frame Tom Mooney on a dynamiting charge. 

164 



He had offered Warren K. Billings $5,000 and immunity if he would help 
him to do it. Billings, though faced with the same charge, refused. 

The bomb explosion was recognized as a chance to "get" Mooney. District 
Attorney Charles, M. Fickert put Swanson in charge of the case. No effort 
was made to find the guilty man. All clues at the scene were carefully de- 
stroyed. Tom Mooney, his wife Rena, Warren K. Billings, Israel Weinberg 
and Edward Nolan were arrested and charged with murder. The indictments 
against Weinberg and Nolan were later dropped. 

Witnesses against Mooney and Billings were Jack MacDonald, a dopej 
fiend who later confessed perjury; Estelle Smith, a prostitute and dope fiend 
who later confessed perjury; two women with police records, Mollie and 
Sadie Edeau, whose evidence was later upset by Chief of Police Peterson of 
Oakland; and Frank C. Oxman, a labor spy who was characterized by news- 
papers as "the honest cattleman." It later turned out that Oxman had not 
even been in San Francisco on the day of the explosion. 

Billings was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mooney was 
sentenced to be hanged. 

Meanwhile the truth of the Mooney case spread with electric speed through/ 
the ranks of world labor. Russian workers in Petrograd demonstrated withjj 
banners against the death sentence of Mooney. In an effort to calm the risingu 
tide of protest, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. 

What followed was a 22-year struggle between the power of Mooney's 
framers and the power of labor. Judge F. A. Griffin, who presided at the 
trial and pronounced the sentence, later begged that Mooney be pardoned or 
given a new trial. The case was fought through every court in the land, 
financed by nickels and dimes from the dungarees of working men. 

But this was a critical test between the oower of capital and the power 
of labor. All the vested interests in the land rallied behind the frame-up. The 
power of the press let loose its full blast of hatred and prejudice. And Mooney 
stayed in prison. 

Four succeeding California governors, faced with the punishing power of 
Big Business, and weighted down by their own cowardice and prejudice, 
refused to pardon Mooney, although by this time the whole world knew he 
was innocent. Their names bear the bitter shame: Stephens, Richardson, Rolph, 

, r —4mm i > - i \ nmwt . *l***m ■ mum 

Merriam. 

For 22 years, with head held high, Mooney, behind bars, stood as a beacon 
of pride to the ranks of labor, and a shadow of shame on the powers of 
private wealth. 

On January 7, 1939, labor, grown to immense strength and political power, 
had put in office a governor whose first act was to accord full and complete 

165 



— j5arcten to Tom Mooney. The deed will outlive every other act of Gilbert L. 
Olson, and will shine forth in the pages of history when his subsequent 
shortcomings have been forgotten. 

Big Business was quick with its wrath and brought down a storm of 
punishment on the governor's head so blind and furious that it almost upset 
the state. Reactionary legislators and political bosses cut loose with all the 
disruption at their command, with the one purpose of destroying the governor 
and breaking the political power of labor that achieved the victory. 

Meanwhile, Tom Mooney, released from San Quentin penitentiary, 

marched up Market Street to the wild joy of swarming thousands in the 

greatest demonstration San Francisco had ever seen. From the Ferry building 

to Civic Center, the street was a living mass of humanity. Men and women 

I wept for joy, and a score of strong longshoremen could not hold them back, 

(as they surrounded Tom in his triumphant walk. 

The great square in front of the city hall was a solrd carpet of weeping, 
laughing faces as Tom rose to address them. 

He was an old man, his body sick and weakened from 22 years of confine- 
ment. But the heart and mind in that body was a dynamo of love and strength 
that reached out into the lives of others, warming them, strengthening them — 
giving them courage for the battle. 

Tom got none of the comforts sf life as we know them in the smaller 
pleasures of personal indulgence. His comfort was in others — in seeing them 
walk erect in pride and courage, and not cowering in selfishness and cynicism. 
He took his pleasure from seeing men and women believe in each other — have 
confidence in each other and in their ability to build a good clean, brotherly 
world. 

It was a warm, rich voice and a kindly, humorous eye that greeted you 
from the pillow of the room in St. Luke's hospital where he spent the greater 
part of his freedom. There were always flowers on the table beside his bed. 
His spirits were noticeably brighter if you brought children. 

His face, wasted and lined by terrible sickness, still smiled and joked. He 
would hold the children's hands — ask them merry questions and pretend with 
them. 

He was going to leave something that would live on in them, and his 
eyes wanted to feast on them and rejoice in them. 

With older people he would talk about getting up and going out to work. 
And he's lying there now — not dead at all. Just a man who's resting, then 
going out to work. 

And wherever you see men walking erect with pride in their eyes and 
faith in each other, you can look at them and say: 

"That's Tom Mooney at work." 

166 



A DATE TO REMEMBER: 
MADRID, JULY 18, 1936 

(People's World, July 18, 1942) 

This Saturday, July 18, marks the anniversary of one of the most tragic 
"if's" in history. If we had only helped Spain! 

There are many. There has been a whole series. If we had stopped Mus- 
solini in Ethiopia. If we had embargoed Japan. If we had halted war ship- 
ments to Germany. If the Munich pact had not been signed. 

Those are but a few of the many "if s" that might have saved the lives 
of the Americans who are fighting and dying today, and the many more who 
are about to fight and die. 

There is no time in this emergency for idle regret. But there is a critical 
need to profit from the past, for now the possibility of the most terrible "if" 
of all confronts us. Will we live to say: "If we had only opened a second 
front while the Russians had full strength and were holding Hitler's major 
forces in the East!" 

It was six years ago today, on July 18, 1936, that General Francisco Franco 
landed his Moorish mercenaries in Spain with the aid of Hitler and Mussolini, 
and started the Axis invasion which crushed the first great democracy. 

For three bloody years the ill-armed, ill-trained forces of Spanish democracy 
held off Moorish, German and Italian legions armed with the best planes, 
tanks and artillery. 

For three bloody years they begged for help from France, Britain and 
America. 

The help they got came from Russia. They fought with Russian rifles and 
the only real aid they received from the other great democracies came in the 
form of volunteers — mostly from the labor unions— who formed the famous 
International Brigade. 

Those were the days of appeasement — of the philosophy that reasoned: 
Let Fascism strangle my neighbor. Maybe it will satisfy them and they'll leave 
me alone. 

Those were the days of trusts betrayed and responsibilities evaded. 

Spain was crushed and enslaved under the heel of fascism. It was a 
rehearsal of Poland, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, and a 
dozen other nations. 

Hitler could have been stopped in Spain. Today he can be stopped in 
Russia IF we open a second front. 

167 



History does not have an unlimited supply of "if's". The stock is running 
low. We're nearing the point where one more "if" may well break democracy's 
back. 

July 18 is not a day for moaning over past errors. 

It is a day for solemn tribute to those American men who went to Spain 
as volunteers and lie buried In Spanish soil. 

It is a day to take pride in the example of those veterans of the Spanish 
fight who returned home and are not wallowing in an attitude of "I told you 
so," but have taken their places in the armed forces or are manning production 
lines. 

It is a day to look with pride and respect en the veterans of the Abraham 
Lincoln Brigade — the American division of the International Brigade. 

It is a day to remember the thousands of Spanish refugees starving m 
French concentration camps, and to support the efforts of the Joint Anti- 
Fascist Refugee Committee to secure thek freedom. 

Above all, it is a day to ponder the word "if," consider how many we 
have squandered to date, and realize we're getting near the end of our supply. 

Spain was thrown to the dogs. Czechoslovakia was thrown to the dogs. 
And there are some people who would like to throw Russia to the dogs. 

The issue doesn't happen to be saving Russia any more than it was saving 
Spain or saving Czechoslovakia. It is a matter of saving our own necks. 

IF a second front is not opened now^ there may not be any question of a 
second front later on. There will only be one front, and that will be us. 

If you want a long war with our American boys taking the full weight of 
the Axis military machine, that's one thing. If you want to smash Hitler now 
with the aid of the great Red Army, then raise your voice with the rest of 
sensible humanity in the cry for a second front today. 



168 



A Question of Morale 



HE SAID FIGHT 

1 talked to an old man. 

His neck was wrinkled like a turkey* s 

His eyes were milky, 

And his hand quivered 

As he placed it on my shoulder. 



Fight, he said. 
Fight like hell. 
Fight and think and work like hell. 



He knew that pretty soon 
He was going down 
Into the ground. 

He seemed to be begging me. 

His hand caressed the muscle of my shoulder 

Like he was trying to drag strength out of it, 

Draw it into his own 

Old bones 

And feel the fire of life 

Strong in his heart. 

Fight, he said. 
Fight like hell. 

He didn't know exactly 

What he was trying to tell me. 

But I understood* him perfectly well. • 

Fight, he said. 
Fight 'em. 
Keep on trying. 
Keep on figuring. 
And fight. 



169 



He'd tried. 

Oh, Christ, how he had tried! 

And he showed me his bruises, 

Proudly, 

But with a kind of desperation. 

He was trying to transmit 

Something to me. 

He was ready for the grave. 

But he had something in him 

That he wanted to transmit to me. 

Something he wanted to set afire 

Inside me. 

Something he wanted 

To keep on going, 

Keep on fighting — 

Then he didn't mind dying. 

He wanted me to say some word 

That would reassure him — 

Some guarantee — 

Some promise — 

That I wouldn't let go of this thing, 

That I'd keep fighting. 

All he could do 

Was dig his fingers in my shoulder, 

Shake his head from side to side, 

And tell me to fight, 

Like I was his only hope. 

He liked me, 

But he wasn't sure. 

He liked me, 

But he knew the temptations, 

And he knew how tired a Plan can get. 

Fight f em, he said. 
Fight the bastards. 
And keep on fighting. 



170 



7 know, dad, 1 said. 

I'll fight 'em. 

You don't have to worry. 

I'll fight like hell. 

But he wasn't convinced. 

He was going down into the ground. 
He was going to die, 
And he wanted the fight finished. 
And even when I promised him, 
He wasn't satisfied. 

He kept telling me over and over again: 

Don't crawl in a hole. 

Don't think you're smart. 

Don't jail for the me and the mine. 

Keep fighting, son. 

Don't ever let up. 

Just grit your teeth, 

And do your bit, 

And fight — fight — 

Fight 'em like hell. 

And I understood him 

—Perfectly well. 



REVERIE AT MIDNIGHT 



(People's World, August 4, 1942) 

This is not essential reading. My dog brought home a cat. Whatever that 
has to do with opening a second front or saving the world from fascism, you 
can figure out for yourself. I don't know. 

I've been trying to think about these things tonight and see them clearly. 
And here's that sickly little cat staring up at me, purring, mewing, jumping 
up on the table and having to be slapped off every three minutes. 

It's late at night and I've been sitting in the kitchen, smoking cigarets, 
reading over things and thinking hard. The Russians fighting and dying on the 
Eastern front. Us pleading and demanding with all our lungs and hearts for 

171 



a second front. The Japanese entrenched in the Aleutians (more important 
than most people suppose) . A thousand Fascist-minded disrupters in America 
trying to split unity and cause dissension. 

How to fight them? How to put things clearly and still more clearly. And 
that damn cat jumping on the table, bothering the dog, and tipping things 
over. 

This is the most serious crisis in human history. It's an all or nothing 
fight. If it's lost it means world fascism. If we fail to aid the Russians now, 
it may extend the war indefinitely and shave the chances of defeat or victory 
to razor thinness. 

The kitchen at night is a good place to think. 

That dog always hated cats. He's a little red cocker. When you walk him 
you've got to have him on a leash or he'll drive you crazy chasing cats fero- 
ciously. So now he has to bring one home. A sick one. 

We opened the door and there he was on the back porch licking it and 
nursing it. He loves it. He'll take anything from it, and the cat rubs against 
him, climbs all over him, and purrs. 

Now it's in my lap, digging its claws into my pants and whining. It's like 
removing a piece of flypaper. Thump! It lands on the floor and crouches for 
a new leap. I have to lean down and push it away. 

It's sick. It's not house broken. It vomits. About every three hours it has 
a fit. It's a black and white, dirty, skinny kitten with sick, watery eyes. And 
the dog loves it. 

I put it outside in the cold. It cried fit to break my heart and I had to bring 
it in again. I fed it milk and it threw it right up. 

The dog caresses it sympathetically and noses it around. 

Five times the dog has tried to go to sleep. Every time the cat jumps on 
him and he leaps in alarm, only to discover it's the cat, lick it, nose it, then 
wander off somewhere else and try to sleep. 

Maybe he's crazy and maybe he's a saint. 

This kind of thing used to be tops in newspaper feature stories. Dog loves 
cat. Cat pals with baby kangaroo. Airedale adopts brood of chicks. And there 
would usually be a picture of the animals involved. 

God, but we're a pack of sentimentalists — and I have no objections to 
that at all. But Hitler's counting heavily on it. He drilled toughness and hatred 
into his Nazi punks, and we're faced with the necessity of killing. And I 
mean necessity, as the people of France, Holland, Norway and a dozen other 
countries could tell you — particularly Greece. 

When I take the dog out, soldiers and sailors stop to pet him and rub his 
ears, tell me about their dogs back home. They're all nice kids. And they've 
got to go out and kill to be tough. They've got to. 

172 



They're fighting for a damn sight more than their dogs. Ask the starving 
people of Greece who have eaten all their dogs, and would be glad to eat that 
sickly little kitten. 

I find it necessary to think. Sometimes I sit up pretty late smoking cigarets 
in the kitchen and thinking. Not worrying. Thinking. Worrying is no sense. 

I know some people deliberately try to avoid thinking about things. They 
want to take their minds o# things. They tell me it only worries or depresses 
them, and what's the use? 

The people of France could tell them whaVs the use. 

Never get depressed. A man's duty under any circumstances is to He 
pointed in his chosen direction and moving in that direction with all his might. 
I don't mean that in the sense of personal or individual ambitions. I mean it 
m the sense of the kind of world and society a man wants for his friends and 
family — for everybody. 

Know what you want and keep slugging. We'll get there. 

But think about it, and don't be afraid to think. We've got to think a lot 
about things, know what we want, fight for it, then maybe fight for it again, 
then work for it. But we'll get there. I guarantee it. 

That cat's gone to sleep now, thank heaven. So has the dog. So has every- 
body. I like a warm kitchen at night. 



THE BOTHERSOME SEX 
AND O'BRIEN 

Mr. O'Brien chewed the end of his pencil as if it contained the vitamins 
of thought. 'I've got it all worked out but one matter, and that's a puzzler," 
he said. 

"What are you scribbling down there?" asked Mr. Murphy. ' - 

1 'Tis a plan for what the world will be like after the war," said O'Brien. 
"I have everything nicely solved, but I don't know what to do about the 
women." 

"Why don't you just let them remain women?" asked Murphy. 

"Aye, they shall still be women. That's not the point. But what shall we 
do with them?" 

"You mean you and me?" 

"Now, Murphy, why., do you insist on confusing things? I mean what will 
anybody do with them?" 

"O'Brien, if fbu. don't know the answer to that I won't tell you." 

173 



"See here, Murphy. There's no good trying to evade the issue. Here they 
are in the WAACS and the WAVES and crawling around with welding 
torches in the shipyards and running the streetcars and driving locomotives and 
heaven knows what. Tis all right for winning the war, but suppose they won't 
go back?" 

"Back where?" 

"Back in the home where they belong." 

"Well, O'Brien, if you want to provide a home for a woman, there is 
nothing to prevent you from getting married, unless she doesn't want you." 

"Why must you put it on a personal basis?" 

"Because in the past there has been a great lack of men willing or able 
to provide homes for women and if they didn't go out and work they would 
starve." 

"Aye, but even so, a lot of women who have had a taste of working in the 
world won't want to be housewives." 

"Well, you can't force a woman to sit idle at home if she doesn't want to." 

"Well, what are we going to do about it, Murphy?" 

"We're not going to do anything, O'Brien," 

"And why not? 'Tis a serious problem.' 9 

"It isn't up to us, O'Brien. We have nothing to say about it." 

"And why not, may I ask? Isn't this a democracy?" 

' 'Tis a democracy, indeed, and that's why we have nothing to say about 
it. The women will decide for themselves." 

"Aye, but they have no right to take away the jobs from the men." 

"Jobs don't belong to men any more than food belongs to men, O'Brien. 
Women have to eat as well as men and have just as much right to any job 
they can perform." 

"But, Murphy, if a woman can't get a job she's that much more likely to 
marry and settle down." 

"What do you want to do? Starve women into marrying you?" 

"That's not the point, Murphy. There are just so many jobs and if the 
women are going to hold a lot of them, then that many men will be unem- 
ployed." 

"O'Brien, there are so many things in need of doing in this world that 
there is no decent excuse why we can't organize things so that every human 
being has the right to work and live, be he man or woman." 

"Aye, but if the man works and supports the woman there is no need or 
sense in her working." s 

"In the past, O'Brien, we have often had such difficulty earning our bread 
that we fell into the idea that money was the only reason why anyone worked. 

174 

1 



And sometimes the jobs were so tough and dull we couldn't imagine anyone 
working if they didn't have to. 

"But the fact is, work is as necessary to life as the bread you earn. Leisure 
is only enjoyable when it is time off from work. And to be doing something 
useful and interesting in the world is as necessary to the women as it is to the 
men." 

"Then who is going to have children and bring them up properly, 
Murphy?" 

"In that regard, O'Brien, nature has provided you with biological pro- 
tection. You need have no fear that anyone will require you to give birth to a 
child. That function will remain exclusively with women. They will bear the 
children. Does that answer your question?" 

"And how is she to raise children if she's out in the world working?" 

"In that regard, O'Brien, women have a tougher problem in life than men, 
and we should have the decency to help them as much as possible, and do 
everything we can to see that they may have their children, bring them up as 
they want and still live full and interesting lives. In the past we have taken 
advantage of their physical differences in order to elbow them out of life." 

"You mean we should have nursery schools and that kind of business, 
Murphy?" 

"All those matters, O'Brien, will be decided by the women for themselves 
when the war is over. Not by us. They are out from under our thumbs at last 
and 'tis a very good thing. You should start considering what women are 
going to do about men." 



niiffl 






175 



MORALE 



(People's World, September, 1942) 

They moan of morale, morale, morale 
In a daily publicity stunt, 
W hen all the people are seeking for 
Is a first class fighting front. 

There's nothing the matter with our morale, 
We're building the planes and ships. 
But where the hell is the fighting front, 
And when do we come to grips? 

They plead for more and more morale 
Yet cannot hear, somehow, 
The whole damn public yelling 
For a second front right now. 

They say we'll have ten million men 
In 1943, 

The Russians have ten million now; 
But where the hell are we? 

Will we let them pound the Soviets 

To a bloody shattered wreck, 

And wait till the whole damned Nazi hot dp 

C@?nes piling on our neck? 

A million men in a second front 
This afternoon would be 
Worth more than twenty million men 
• In 1943. 

There's nothing wrong with our morale, 

Except ifs being fed 

Upon the bravery of the Reds 

And all their martyred dead. 



176 



You needn't think our hearts will fail 
Or crumble under cares 
As long as we're inspired by men 
With hearts as strong as theirs. 

Egyptian sands and Solomon Isles, 
Commando raids and such 
Are brave and worthy battles but 
They don't hurt Hitler much. 

No men could die more bravely, 
No hearts could prouder be, 
Of the men ivho died in action 
At Midway and Coral Sea. 

But these were not decisive, 
And it needs a great deal more 
To appease the fighting hunger 
Of America at war. 

There's nothing wrong with our morale. 
But we're getting kind of sore 
At marking time while a lot of dopes 
Talk of a twenty year war. 

We're getting tired of the word morale. 
It's ivar, and we know ive're in it. 
And all we ask is a first class front 
On which to fight and win it. 

A chance to hit the Nazi horde 
Caught in the Russian tide; 
While the fullest strength of the Soviet 
Can battle by our side. 

We've got morale as strong as hell. 
And we're not going to lose it. 
But for krisakes give us a fighting front 
On which man can use it. 



177 



Crimean Epic 
THE RETURN TO SEVASTOPOL 

(A CIO Radio Reporter Broadcast, April 13, 1944) 

Something is happening that people don't know about. It's on the front 
pages of all newspapers — but still people don't know about it. Something great 
is about to happen. 

The news account reads just as news accounts do: 

"Shattering the second deep zone of German defenses in the Crimea, the 
Red Army has raced down the Central Crimean Railway to a point thirty-five 
miles above Sevastopol." 

And you can read that, and say to your wife: 'There's nothing much in 
the paper tonight. The Russians have made another gain. They've crashed into 
the Crimea and are heading for some place called Sevastopol or Savistopol 
or something." 

The name, friends, is Sevastopol, and you can speak it with a kind of awe. 

Sevastopol is a little city on the tip of the Crimea in the Black Sea — a city 
built on a hill, overlooking a bay — very much like San Francisco. It is a 
seaport town, famous for its borsht, tender fish, and flowers as bright as paint. 
It was a city of people who loved its shores and streets with a deep passion — 
a city of homes and hard-working people who knew how to play when their 
work was over. For Sevastopol was also famous for its laughter, its music, and 
its beautiful women. 

I say it was such a city. Today it lies in scarred and blackened ruins that 
frown down upon the Nazi invaders. There are no people in Sevastopol to 
weep or suffer the invader's scorn. For the people of Sevastopol are dead. 

Except for a few civilians and some of the wounded who were evacuated 
under shellfire and bombing in the last desperate hour, the people of Sevas- 
topol are dead. The streets and surrounding hills are soaked with their blood, 
and the harbor is clogged with their bodies. 

And the beautiful women, of whom the invaders dreamed in their maraud- 
ing brains — the beautiful women of Sevastopol — they died fighting with their 
men as the city fought to the last man, the last woman, the last child. 

As the wounded lay on the beaches under strafing of enemy planes — wait- 
ing to be evacuated on cutters and destroyers — they rubbed their faces in the 

178 



V 
sand ofSevastopol, wept, and were carried away clutching handful of pebbles, 

swearing to come back. 

Sailors dying in the streets and hills dipped their hands in their own blood 
and wrote upon the soil: "Come back to Sevastopol." 

For many days the Red Marines, knowing their doom was sealed, had 
adopted a common toast that was spoken as they raised their glasses: "Toll 
the Bells." It was spoken not mournfully but bravely, in a blend of humor and 
hatred. 

Through the charred and ruined streets went an old woman followed by 
a small boy carrying a bucket of yellow paint. With a big brush she was 
painting in clumsy letters on the ruins: "Death — Death to you Germans — 
Death!" 

It was her own idea. No one had ordered her to do this. 

Civilians young and old were arming, standing in line to receive rifles, 
tommy guns and grenades. 

An old woman who dated back to pre-revolutionary days, who remembered 
the time of the Czar, held a huge pistol in her hand and walked with timid 
steps, in fear the grenades around her waist might explode. 

The' Young Pioneers, the bright-cheeked children of the revolution, for 
whose destiny and future the whole people of Russia had toiled and sacrificed 
for years, stood in line accepting tommy guns and pistols. 

Sevastopol was preparing to fight to the death. 

And this amidst the smoke and fire of bombardment and dive bombing. 

Boris Voyatchekov, a correspondent of Pravda, was dining in an under- 
ground cave. He asked the waiter, an old man who had lived always in Sevas- 
topol and who was preparing to die there, what he thought of Hitler. The 
waiter gasped. 

"You ask me what I think of Hitler? Listen. Did you ever see the institute 
named after Professor Sechenov? It was an absolute sea of ultra violet rays. 
People used to go there on crutches, and two months later they would be 
doing tap dances. 

"So I ask you — where is the Sechenovsky Institute today? Gone. Destroyed 
and smashed to pieces. After that, what can I say about Hitler? Hooligan. 
Bosyak! 

"And the Naval Library! Thousands 'of books in leather covers, children 
used to go there and get any book they wanted — and, mark you, without pay- 
ing. And then there were those statues and vases in the entrance. Where is 
the Library now? Gone. Destroyed. Blown up. What can I say about Hitler? 
Bandit.. Gangster. 

"And the Panorama!" Listen. People in Washington and New York used 
to leave businesses worth millions of rubles and get on ships and come here 

180 



to look at it. Did you ever see circular pictures before? And what a terrible 
price it cost to set this up. So I ask you, where is the Panorama? Gone. 
Destroyed. Blown up. 

"So what can I say about Hitler? Scoundrel. Dog. Swine. 

"To tell you the truth, I am not excited. Our commander-in-chief has 
decided to beat the schmutz out of Hitler. Then the matter is settled and I 
am not worrying." 

Later, entering the underground chamber of the military council, the cor- 
respondent found the personnel smashing typewriters, ripping out wires, 
throwing telephones out of the room. 

They worked calmly and methodically, destroying everything. Those who 
had finished their end of it were strapping revolvers and grenades around 
their waists. 

The Germans had broken through on the North side. Over a carpet of 
dead sailors of the Bkck Sea Fleet, the German tanks were advancing. 
Sevastopol was doomed. These people were going out to die fighting, to 
enable the wounded and a few of the aged and sick to be evacuated from the 
beaches. They were carried onto destroyers and cutters, at least half of which 
were sunk before they could get out of the harbor. 

A giant sailor was fastening machine gun belts across his chest in the 
traditional manner of the Black Sea Fleet. As he did so, he sang softly a 
favorite song of Sevastopol: "Open Wide the Gates, My Darling.*' 

Entering the inner office, the correspondent found the head of the Military 
Soviet sitting in an armchair instead of at his desk. The manner in which he 
sat signified his work was over, so far as the desk was concerned. 

"I am sorry," said the official, "but the psychological moment for your 
departure has struck. All such patriotic exclamations as: 1 can't leave you in 
such difficult <^<&rnstaaees ? ? or 'As a Communist I must stay and die/ are 
quite out of order. You weren't sent here to die. I don't believe in editors 
who boast the number of their correspondents who hate, been killed. 

"You are supposed to write about the war on the Black Sea coast. If you % 
do, we'll be grateful. Eighteen days in Sevastopol is something for you 
nervous people. Sorry. Our nerves have become wires. Nothing surprises us. 
now. But you are a writer. You must still be a little surprised. And while you 
feel like that — write. 

"I used to write at school — poetry. It was rather bad. No, very bad. You'll 
go back on a submarine. The Commissar will take you to the harbor with the 
transport chief. You know him, I believe. Such an Epicurean. 

"No need to give you any advice. You may have trouble on the way. Or 
maybe you will not be noticed. 

*Don't give up your uniform. It is your present. Sevastopol's uniform!" 

181 



Leaving the underground office of the Military Soviet, the correspondent 
was stopped by a second rank captain whom he had met in the messroom. 

"I hear you are leaving," said the captain. ''Would you be so kind as to 
take a letter to my wife in Moscow? My home is called Sailor's Rest — just as 
in Chekhov. It's a bungalow.*' 

Then he sat down at a table to hastily finish the letter. No envelope was 
available, so he simply handed it to the correspondent folded. 

"It does not matter," he said. "What secrets can there be now? It is very 
short and not what I meant to say, but how can one write it? I should like 
you to take the letter personally and try to explain everything." 

The correspondent did get through with that letter. I'm going to read it 
to you now. It said: 

"Yes, Anka, we shall not see each other. An hour ago I was called in and 
told: "We trust you to die here. You will do this job and you will not get 
back alive. We are not trying to frighten you, but don't deceive yourself. 

! The wounded are being withdrawn to Cheronese. Cover them until the 
last man, the last yard, the last breath.' 

"They told me I could refuse, but I could not. I was deadly silent. I wanted 
to refuse, but I could not. 

"Ignorance is the best drug before dying. But I know, and I am going. 
I am not a hero, and you know it, Anka. Death never stood very close to me 
before. I was promised life. Why, ■> and for what reason am I doing this? And 
while waiting for my regiment and looking into my seething mind, I find the 
answer. 

"From discipline to heroism is only one step. And if we talk about our 
idea of a fighter, first of all we've got to consider him as one who fulfills 
orders — one who understands that he is being true to the principles of ouf 
country. 

"Damn it, we can't even die without philosophizing. 

'T am telling you everything, just as it was said to me. It is better, so as 
to make it clean-cut, and not torture your life with vain hopes and senseless 
guessing. 

"How foolish that we had no children. Life should continue. For its con- 
tinuation, we die the best way we can. 

"It should have been a thousand times easier for me, if there were growing 
up beside you my male heir to my spirit and the feelings of my heart. A dying 
man has got to see succession. Then death is as reasonable as birth. 

"My dear, in my vanishing luck I would not have given you to any man. 
Husbands who give up their wives 'are scoundrels. When we loved, we were 
sparing in words. Now it is too late. There is no use to talk. I know you love 
me. I know that when I am dead, for you, I will continue to live, and that no 

182 



one will edge me away from your careful heart. I know this wound will never 
heal. 

"But if it happens that you meet a man fine enough for your grief, whom 
you will love a little; and if, as the result of your love, you have a new life, 
and it is a son — then let him bear my name. Let him be my continuation, 
though I am dead and your new friend is alive. 

"And when a new Sevastopol is built, come here. And somewhere on 
Cheronese, somewhere near the sea, plant poppies. They grow here very well. 
And that will be my grave. 

"It may be that you will make a mistake. Maybe it won't be me, but 
another who lies there. It doesn't matter. Someone else will think of her own 
and plant flowers above me. Nobody will be left out. For we shall lie close, 
and there will be no space between us where we lie. 

"Farewell. I am glad they warned me about death. Otherwise I would not 
have talked to you — my joy, my blood, my life. I shall gnaw their throats for 
you. I love you. I love you till the last drop of my blood." 

That's the letter he wrote. 

With that letter tucked in his jacket, the correspondent left the underground 
headquarters and started for the harbor. Nazi shock troops were entering the 
outskirts of the city. It was night. Crouched in every ruin were the sailors of 
the Red Sea Fleet, and the people of Sevastopol — men and women, side by 
side, and Young Pioneers clutching rifles and tommy guns. 

On the last ship from Sevastopol the correspondent left. It was a ship 
laden with wounded for whom there was neither bandages nor medicine. The 
harbor was choked with bombed and sunken ships. Behind him was the fierce 
glow of blazing wreckage. The city rocked with explosions as the men and 
women of Sevastopol fought to the death. 

They fought until their backs were to the sea and their ammunition gone, 
then plunged into the water and swam until they drowned. Into a city of 
death and wreckage marched the Nazis. And there on the walls, painted by 
the old woman and the boy, they read these words: "Death. Death to you 
Germans. Die, you Germans. Death!" 

This was the fight that- inspired the defense of Stalingrad, the miracle of 
human courage that stemmed the Nazi tide. 

Today the Nazis are trapped like screaming rats in the city of death they 
conquered. The Red Army is roaring down on them in an avalanche of ven- 
geance. 

"Come back to Sevastopol!" was the cry of those who died. And they're 
going back in a mighty wave of strength and courage. Once more will Sevas- 
topol be a city of laughter, music and peace. And the poppies shall grow on 
the graves of the heroes who died that others might live. 

183 



On To Berlin! 



THE SECOND FRONT IS OPENED 



{A CIO "Facts to Fight Fascism" Radio Broadcast, June 6, 1944)' 

The second front is opened! 

An emergency call has been sent out to all members of the National Mari- 
time Union on the Pacific Coast to report to their headquarters tomorrow at 
2 p.m. Emergency calls for the manning of ships in every part of the country 
will have to be met, and the matter of voluntarily giving up shore leave is 
important. , 

The CIO and other American seafaring unions took part in the invasion 
last night, manning thousands of ships that streamed across the channel in 
a vast carpet of iron and fire. Hundreds of new names are being added hourly 
to their already high casualty list. NMU crews have participated in practically 
every American landing since Pearl Harbor. They manned the ships that 
carried the whole invasion force to Britain, manned the ships that landed the 
invasion forces in Africa, the landing on Sicily and the landing on Italy. They 
carried the cargoes through froody gauntlets to Murmansk and Malta in the 
days when the second front was still a cigar-store argument and victory as 
distant as a dream, 

"Keep 'Em Sailing" was the slogan they adopted on the day of Pearl 
Harbor — and they've kept them sailing clear up to the beaches of France. This 
has cost six thousand men to date— men who were drowned, burned in oil, 
blasted or starved to death in open boats to make this day possible. And let 
me add for the benefit of anti-labor fanatics that in all this time there was not 
one strike, delay or interruption in the performance of this task. 

This is the first war in which the rights of, labor have been a direct issue. 
Hitler destroyed all unions in his wake. The outlawing of unions was a key 
point in the Nazi program. 

Crushing fascism and restoring the rights of labor is only one of the war 
aims for which our troops landed on the beaches of France last night, but that 
it is an important one cannot be overlooked. 

The impression should not be given that tfoe labor movement is the whole 
underground movement of Europe. It isn't. United with labor . are all the 
decent and courageous forces in all the European nations. 

The guarantee of labor's rights signed by Hull, Eden and Molotov at 

184 



Moscow was the key to conquering Italy. The Italian underground is now 
geared in with Allied invasion forces as an integral part of the military 
machine. The importance of this can be seen even more clearly in a political 
sense: The Badoglio government had to be re-organized and the King shoved 
out of the picture to the point where he is dangling by a thin thread, in order 
to secure the whole-hearted support of the Italian people and facilitate effective 
military cooperation by the underground. 

These developments represent something entirely new in military tactics 
and international diplomacy. The new element in the picture is labor. 

Another rolling Russian offensive can be expected on the heels of last 
night's action. The excitement in Moscow where they've been calling for a 
second front for three years is reported as the greatest since the war began. 
Cheering crowds are swarming the streets and the Moscow radio is playing 
"Yankee Doodle Comes to Town." 

It's an invasion, not a victory, and a long road of fighting lies ahead. Don't 
forget Japan still has to be ripped from her conquests before there will be 
any peace or safety for the world. 

President Roosevelt said yesterday: "Germany has not yet been driven to 
surrender. Germany has not yet been driven to the point where she will be 
unable to recommence world conquest a generation hence. . . ." 

There's a knotty point to be worked out, inasmuch as both in the last 
war and this one Germany was spurred on to her warlike conquests by the 
powerful German monopolies. The monopolies were given the hog's share 
of the loot in the occupied countries. They were the backers of Hitler, the 
men who called him out of the Munich beer hall, financed him, and put him 
in power to do their dirty work. And they'll have to be dealt with in any 
practical plan of preventing further wars. 

The second front is now open. The decisive battle has been joined. The 
first issue is support of that front in every conceivable way. Second only to that 
comes the issue of planning what kind of an America we want to come out of 
this war, and making practical plans to have jobs and opportunities ready for 
those fellows when they come home. 



185 



OSCAR WANTS TO KNOW 

Mr. J. Fungus Finklebottom relaxed into his favorite overstuffed chair, 
adjusted his pince-nez, and opened the evening paper. 

"Papa," said little Oscar Finklebottom, "what does opportunity mean?" 

"Go play with your electric train," said J. Fungus. "Don't bother me." 

"Answer the child," said Mrs. Finklebottom. "Y@u treat him as if he 
was an affliction instead of your son and heir." 

"Why do you have to dress him in that outfit?" asked J. Fungus. "It annoys 
me to look at him." 

Oscar was dressed in a little Lord Fauntleroy Suit. He was unfortunately 
cross eyed and wore large horned-rimmed glasses. 

"It distinguishes him from the other children in the neighborhood," Said 
Mrs. Finklebottom. "You ought to be proud." 

"Papa," said Oscar, "what is opportunity?" 

"Opportunity is a chance to make some money. Now go bounce your ball," 
said J. Fungus. 

"Papa, how do you make money?" asked Oscar. 

"Answer him," said Mrs. Finklebottom. "The child wants to learn." 

"You make money by going into business," said J. Fungus, still intent on 
his paper. 

"Papa, can everybody go into business?" 

"Certainly everybody can go into business." 

"Suppose everybody went into business. Would they all be business men?" 

"Yes, son, if they all went into business they would all be business men." 

•"Then who would do the work, Papa?" 

"For the love of heaven, Amelia, tell this child to go play with his stuffed 
elephant. I'm trying to read Dewey's speech." 

"Answer him," said Mrs. Finklebottom. "He wants to learn." 

"Who would do the work, Papa?" repeated Oscar. 

"Everybody couldn't go into business," said J. Fungus. "It would be 
impossible." 

"But you said they could," insisted Oscar. 

"I said nothing of the kind," said J. Fungus. 

"Yes, you did," said Mrs. Finklebottom. "Answer the child." 

"All right, then, they couldn't." 

"Why couldn't they, Papa?" 

"Because they don't have the money." 

"If they had the money, could they?" 

"Certainly." 

186 



"Then, if they all had the money and they all went into business, would 
they all be business men?" 

"Yes, then they'd all be business men." 

"And who would do the work, Papa?" 

"Amelia, if you don't tell this child to ride his tricycle I'll drown him." 

"Answer him, Fungus. He is thirsting for knowledge." 

"Who would do the work, Papa?" asked Oscar. 

"They couldn't all be business men," snapped J. Fungus. 

"Not even if they had the money?" asked Oscar. 

"Not even if they had the money," said J. Fungus. "Somebody's got to do 
the work. Besides, there's a limit to how many businesses could operate." 

"How many people could be business men, Papa?" 

"Well, one in a thousand, maybe. One in five hundred. Something like 
that. A small percentage. You see, son, you can't be a business man if you 
don't have workers. So for every business man there has to be anywhere from 
ten to a hundred or a thousand workers." 

"How many workers do you have, Papa?" 

"Well, we're a big company, Oscar. We hire 10,000." 

"Then most of the people don't have any opportunity, do they, Papa?" 

"What are you talking about? In America every man has an equal oppor- 
tunity." 

"But, Papa, if only a few men can ever be business men, what are the 
rest going to do?" 

"They can be business men, too, if they show the initiative." 

"But you said only a few of them could. Most of them have to be workers." 

"That's right. Now run along, son. Go read Jack and the Beanstalk." 

"Then most of the people are workers and will always be workers and 
couldn't be business men even if they wanted to, could they, Papa?" 

"Certainly they could. No, come to think of it, they couldn't. Where do 
you get these ideas, son?" 

"Then if most of the people are workers and will always be workers they 
won't ever be able to make any money, will they?". 

"Well, if they got enough wages — if — Amelia, isn't it time this child went 
to bed?" 

"If most of the people are workers and will always be workers the only 
way they can make any money is by getting higher wages. Isn't that true, 
Papa?" asked Oscar. 

"Amelia," said J. Fungus, "I refuse to believe — that is I don't like to say — 
but this isn't a child. He's a nightmare. If he's my son, well — " 

"Answer his questions," said Mrs. Finklebottom. "The child wants to 
learn. He hungers for knowledge." 

187 



WAR IS BACK WHERE IT BEGAN 



(A CIO Radio Report, August 3, 1944) 

With the Russians storming Warsaw there's a feeling that the war is 
right back where it started. Remember those days, with refugees streaming 
into Rumania, and besieged Warsaw broadcasting martial music? The Polish 
capital put up a noble defense, shouting defiance over its radio to the last 
Then one night the Warsaw radio went quiet. During a brief period of silence 
the world wondered. Presently it came on again. The slow, sad strains of a 
funeral march sounded in the ears of the world. Not a word of explanation — 
just the music of death coming over the radio — music that would spell death 
to millions before the war was over. 

We may never know who the man was in the station, how he walked to 
the files of records, selected that dirge and played it to the world, letting it 
carry the message he did not have the heart to speak. Perhaps he's dead now, 
with millions like him. But he sent a cold chill down the spine of humanity. 
For all who heard sensed — though we did not know — what was in store for 
us; the long, bitter, bloody road ahead. 

When the radio came on again it was a pig's voice bragging to the world 
and threatening the fate of Warsaw to all who defied the will of Hitler. The 
harsh, arrogant voice of power-drunk, blood-crazed Germany. 

Films were taken of the blazing blitz of Warsaw, the bursting bombs, the 
crashing buildings and the roaring flames, long lines of ragged, exhausted 
Polish soldiers being herded into barbed wire enclosures, a monstrous junk- 
heap of rifles in front of a cathedral. These were the films shown by the 
Germany Embassy to a special audience of Norwegian officials — a frank and 
cynical threat. Here was the punishment for resistance, "Exhibit A" to 
frighten mankind into capitulation. 

There was a reason behind German ruthlessness and brutality. Hit hard 
and punish unmercifully. Frighten the world to its knees. The Nazis marched 
on the premise that all men were cowards save only the German master-race. 

It was a long time ago. American kids who on that day when Warsaw 
fell were lugging schoolbooks in and out of high schools are now battling 
supermen in France and Italy, or fighting Japanese with knives in the hot 
jungles of New Guinea. And beating them back to their holes. Union men 
who on that day were marching with banners and slogans in picket lines, today 
are charging with bayonets against the wavering ranks of the Nazis. 

It was a long time ago. We tried to plan our lives and see ahead in those 
days, but there was something haunting the backs of our minds. A persistent 

188 



feeling of insecurity, a gnawing anxiety, a sense of unfinished business, a 
vague reali2ation that we would march through hell before we were through, 
that something had to be cleared off the books. 

The showdown came. The long road to victory is not yet covered, but it's 
in sight. ' Warsaw Was the beginning — the military beginning, for Spain and 
Munich laid the diplomatic basis for the war. 

Now we're back where that funeral dirge was played. Nazi Germany is 
dying like a mad animal, loosing robot bombs on London in futile hatred 
and venting her rage on women and children; .bigots murdering bigots within 
Germany in purges that resemble the festering of an ugly sore. 

Japan, less hard-pressed, is overwhelmed by a sense of her hopelessness. 

Put it at four months — a year. The end is in sight. It will mean that the 
obstacle has been cleared aside. The thing that was haunting the back of our 
minds has been faced and beaten, and we'll be able for the first time in fifteen 
years to plan and live our lives in an atmosphere of secure peace — because 
it has been that long that this thing was brewing. 

Many a slip is possible, of course, and it is necessary to follow through on 
our pledges of unconditional defeat of fascism, and the sealing of firm and 
practical world cooperation afterwards. But those goals are in sight and are 
fortified by the bitter experience of the last war. We'll reach them. A better 
organized and more politically astute America faces this victory. 



DER PFUTZ 

Or Der Blitz in Reverse 

Field Marshall Gustav von Blitzenpooper entered, dripping with medals. 
He clicked his heels, gave' the Nazi salute and snapped: "Heil Hitler!" 

Der Fuehrer was brooding over a map of the Argentine. "Heil me/' he 
said, dismally, returning the salute with a slight gesture of the thumb. "How 
is the military situation?" 

"Geeshtunken!" replied Von Blitzenpooper, without enthusiasm. 

"Tell them to keep fighting," said Der Fuehrer. "The tide will change." 

"Fuehrer," sand Von Blitzenpooper, plaintively. "Why can't we surrender? 
What is the sense of fighting when there is no hope?" 

"Fight on," screamed Der Fuehrer. 

"Hen 1 Hitler," said Von Blitzenpooper, "but there's no sense in it." 

"Fight on," ordered Der Fuehrer. "We must hold out." 

"But what for?" demanded Von Blitzenpooper. 

189 



"We must hold out until after the elections," said Der Fuehrer. 

"I didn't think we had elections any more," said Von Blitzenpooper. 

"The American elections, you dumkopf," said Der Fuehrer. 

"And what have they to do with us?" asked Von Blitzenpooper. 

"Geeschmooglepfutz!" said Der Fuehrer. "You ask what has that to do 
with us? When Tovarish Roosevelt may be defeated and Herr Dewey elected?" 

"And what is Herr Dewey to us?" 

"What is he to us? He talks our language. Defeat the Communists — hang 
the Reds! That's all he talks about." 

"But Fuehrer, that is your line. It is taken right from Mein Kampf. You 
can sue him under the international copyright laws." 

"Don't be a fool, Blitzenpooper. Let him imitate me. It is all to our 
advantage. Besides, he promises to appoint John Foster Dulles head of the 
State Department." 

"Not the John Foster Dulles who helped sell German bonds in America, 
and who made speeches saying we should be appeased?" 

"The same." 

"Fuehrer, we must hold out at all costs." 

"Not only that," said Der Fuehrer, "but he is running f^r election on the 
proposition of repudiating everything the American Government has done in 
the past 12 years. It will mean all America's relations with her Allies will have 
to be re-negotiated. All policies will be subject to change. The conferences 
of Casablanca, Cairo, Teheran and Quebec will go out the window. Under- 
standings with Russia regarding Japan will be upset. The whole United Na- 
tions' strategy will be turned upside down." 

"Himmel," said Von Blitzenpooper. "We have every reason to hold out 
at all costs." 

"That is not all," said Der Fuehrer, ecstatically, "Herr Dewey hates the 
Russians. He sees eye-to-eye with us on them. We will be able to play America 
against Russia and Russia against America to our own advantage. We can 
hold out indefinitely." 

"But wait a minute," said Von Blitzenpooper, "what if President Roosevelt 
is reelected?" 

Der Fuehrer, drooped slightly and eyed the map of the Argentine again. 
"That," he said, "might somewhat delay our plans for conquering the world." 

"Then could we surrender?" asked Von Blitzenpooper. 

"Then you might as well surrender," said Der Fuehrer. "We would have 
no further reason for holding out. Only I would suggest this: Strengthen the 
eastern front and weaken the western front, and let the Americans in. If we 
are going to be occupied by anyone, it had better be the Americans. After all, 
we didn't burn their homes and they might not be quite as mad at us." 

190 



CARTEL BUGGY RIDE 

"The man was saying on the radio about cartels," said Mrs. Finnegan. 
"Tell me, Pat, are they pulled by donkeys?" 

"Cartels are not wagons, Mary," said her husband. "They are organiza- 
tions of businessmen." 

"And do they ride on donkeys?" 

"Certainly they don't ride on donkeys. What have donkeys to do with it?" 

"Well, what do they ride on?" 

"They ride on people like you and me, Mary." 

"You mean they make jackasses out of us." 

"In a manner of speaking, yes. A cartel is when all the different companies 
in a particular line of business get together and decide that instead of compet- 
ing with each other, they'll divide up the business amongst themselves." 

"You mean they agree that one of them will do business here, another 
one there and they won't tread on each other's toes?" 

"Exactly, Mary, and they also arrange to exchange patents and grant 
each other exclusive rights in one way or another. They even have them on an 
international scale." 

"Yes, but suppose somebody else comes along and starts another business 
in that line, and starts competing with them, then where. are they at?" 

"It isn't likely, Mary." 

"And why not?" 

"When a business grows to million or billion dollar proportions, who 
could possibly compete with them? Not more than a handful of men in the 
world. Besides, the cartels usually control all the patents and raw materials 
and markets so that nobody else could get in." 

"But what is the advantage of that, Pat? I should think each company 
would want to grab all the business it could instead of dividing it up." 

"That's where you're mistaken, Mary. They make much more money by 
organizing cartels than they could by competing with each other. When they 
compete with each other, that drives down prices. When they have a cartel 
they can agree to fix a high price and stick to it." 

"But then, Pat, they wouldn't sell as much goods at the high price." 

"They don't care about that. They would rather make one bicycle and 
sell it for a hundred dollars, than 10 bicycles for 10 dollars each. It means 
less trouble and more profits for them. That's why cartels cut down on pro- 
duction and boost prices." 

"But I don't understand it, Pat. If they have all the business to themselves 

191 



in such a manner that nobody else can get into it, and they're not competing 
with each other, then where's the free private enterprise?" 

"In the case of cartels, there isn't any, Mary. When a business gets that 
big it destroys the very free private enterprise that gave it its start. Take the 
telephone business. Now we have only one in the whole nation and not the 
slightest chance of anybody starting another. And then the telegraph business ; 
there's only one of them now." 

" Tis the evil of big business and should be put a. stop to." 

"Oh, no. You're wrong, Mary. Without big business and mass production 
we couldn't possibly win the war. And without mass production we couldn't 
possibly raise the standard of living of the people." 

"I don't understand you, Pat. First you say big business is bad, then you 
say We've got to have." 

"A business isn't bad just because it's big, Mary. I said limit production 
and boost prices and rob the common man. It doesn't matter how big businesses 
get just so they are made to pay high wages and charge fair prices." 

"And who's going to do that, may I ask?" 

"The people, through their democracy, Mary. It's a job of political action." 

"But, Pat, if the businesses are so big, what chance have other people? 
If one man owns a hundred stores, then 99 other men are deprived of the 
chance to run stores." 

"Ninety-nine per cent of the people, Mary, are wage workers and always 
will be. We are a nation of Wage workers. You can no more turn back the 
clock and make America a nation of small farmers, shopkeepers and artisans 
than you could get women to wear hoop-skirts. And if you did, you would 
reduce America from the major power in the world to a fifth rate power. 
Large-scale production is here to stay, and we must fashion our future in 
terms of it. We are a nation of wage workers in a mass production civilization, 
and the sooner we start thinking in these terms, the sooner we'll have full 
employment and prosperity." 



FREE PRIVATE CGCOANUTS 



(ILWU Dispatcher, December, 1944) 

All the stories and strange experiences of this war will not be told for 
years to come. I think the strangest and most remarkable of all, however, was 
the experience of a National Maritime Union merchant seaman, Pete Finnegan, 
who had a shipload of munitions blow up under him in the South Pacific. 

192 



Oddly enough, Pete was not even bruised or scratched. He was blown several 
hundred thousand feet into the air, but he had the presence of mind on the 
way up to remove his underdrawers and fashion them into a crude parachute, 
with which he wafted slowly and gracefully onto a remote island called 
Woozy Boola. 

Now, I wouldn't be apt to believe this if I hadn't heard it directly from 
Pete Finnegan himself. He is usually very reticent and modest, but I managed 
to get him talking about it over a dozen or so bottles of green death in one 
of the better class Embarcadero taverns. 

According to Pete, this island was inhabited by a tribe of savages called 
the Rotarianosis Kiwanisousies. It seems that many years ago, some wreckage 
from a ship that went down in a typhoon drifted ashore on Woozy Boola, 
including a splendid book by the Wall Street economist Roger Babson. With 
this, they were able to reconstruct a perfect working model of modern civiliza- 
tion. 

The first person to accost Pete, after he landed on the island was a thin, 
unhappy looking savage who begged hiiit for some cocoanuts. 

Pete looked around him in some surprise. "Why, there's more than enough 
cocoanuts," he said. "This whole darn island is covered with cocoanut palms.'* 

"Yes," said the savage, "But we're having a depression right now and 
times are hard. Besides, I haven't a license for climbing trees." 

"Then pick one up off the ground," said Pete. 

"That wouldn't be right," the savage told him. "I'm not entitled to it." 

"And why not?" asked Pete. 

"Because I haven't worked for it," said the savage. "I haven't earned it." 

"Then by all means go to work," said Pete, "And earn yourself one." 

"I can't," said the savage. "We've got a depression on, and there's no 
work to do. You can't get a job anywhere." 

Pete felt pretty sorry for the fellow, and said: "Well, why not make some 
work. Start a federal tree-climbing project or something." 

The savage shook his head. "That isn't a good idea," he said. "It would 
get people to expecting things from their government and would discourage 
free private cocoanuts." 

"Well, my gosh," said Pete, "you've got to do something." 

"Oh, no," said the savage. "Depressions are perfectly natural. We have 
them periodically. We have a book written by the great god Babson which 
explains it all. I must admit, however, it's sometimes disheartening. Yesterday, 
I buried my grandfather." 

"That's too bad," said Pete. "What did the old man die of?" 

"Well, he walked around begging for cocoanuts until he got too weak to 
stand any shock." 

193 



"So he starved to death?'* asked Pete. 

"Oh, no," said the savage. "It wasn't that. A cocoanut fell on his head." 

As they walked toward the village, Pete noticed a large area of land, 
studded with the stumps of cocoanut palms that had been chopped down. A 
crew of savages were busy with stone axes at the edge of the clearing, chopping 
down still more trees. 

"Things will be much better when they get finished," said the savage. 

"Indeed, and what are they doing? 7 ' asked Pete. 

"Why, they're chopping down the cocoanut trees. The depression, you 
see, was caused by over-production. There were altogether too many cocoanuts. 
That's what caused the trouble." 

"Too many cocoanuts!" said Pete. 

"That's right. When cocoanuts are growing all over, and scattered on the 
ground, it ruins the market. You can't get a high price for them. Further- 
more, a man loses his incentive to work hard for a cocoanut if he can get 
one too easy." 

"It's a terrible situation," agreed Pete. 

"Yes, but it looks like everything will be all right before long. We're 
bound to have a war, and then there's a big demand for cocoanuts. You can't 
get enough of them. We use them to throw at each other." 

At the outskirts of the village, TPete observed a huge bamboo cage full of 
monkeys. 

"They're Reds," said the savage. "Don't talk to them." 

"How come they're Reds?" Pete asked. 

"Well, they're either Reds or CIO sympathizers. It's all the same. We've 
got a law against monkeys now." 

"What for?" asked Pete. 

"Well, they pull the cocoanuts off the trees and throw them down to the 
people." 

"What's wrong with that?" asked Pete. 

"Then people don't have to climb trees. It makes life too easy." 

"Doesn't anybody on this island want an easy life?" asked Pete. 

"Well, the monkeys did, but we put a stop to that. They were interfering 
with free private cocoanuts." 

Pete wasn't on that island more than three days before they had him 
locked in the cage with the monkeys. Harry Bridges protested to Washington 
about it, and a whole division of Marines was sent to rescue him. 

Pete says he doesn't think he'll ever go back to Woozy Boola. 



194 



ROOSEVELT LEAVES A HERITAGE 

(A CIO Radio Broadcast, April 13, 1945)' 

The death of any friend impels you to look at the sky, then down at your 
hands, to move your fingers and marvel at this gift of life, this miracle of 
action and personality which on ordinary days we take so much for granted. 

We know that we too shall follow the President, as he followed those 
before him, and it causes us to reflect upon the conflicts around us — the strong 
desires, the struggling needs, and ambitions and hopes and fears that consume 
our time on earth. 

Few leave this life willingly, despite its travails. And just as few leave it 
with any sense of triumph of substantial accomplishment. More often it is 
with a great sense of anxiety for the things we loved that we relax our hold 
on life and pass into mystery. 

Humanity is moving toward some goal of intelligence and justice that we 
are not yet able to fully discern. And each human life can span only a short 
distance of this painful progress, and must die without viewing the full result 
of its efforts. 

Our great nation has seldom been kind to its heroes. 

I am thinking of Thomas Paine, whose pen first shaped into words the 
ideal of American democracy which has guided America through many strug- 
gles and which guided our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, until yes- 
terday. * 

Thomas Paine died in poverty, scorned by the populace, stoned in the 
streets, because he dreamed a little beyond the comprehension of his day. They 
desecrated his grave, dug up his bones and carried them to England to let 
people look at them for a fee, as a curiosity. * 'Paine, Paine, damned be his 
name," was the rhyme they shouted after him in the streets before he died. 

How lonely and forsaken he was. How overwhelming must have been his 
sense of failure and hopelessness. But no. Thomas Paine had that strange 
light of love in his brain that persisted to the end. He believed in the people. 
He believed in the very people who stoned him. Believed in their ability to 
throw off ancient cruelties and pioneer new ways of freedom and opportunity 
for man. 

He died in sadness and anxiety, yes, but not in despair, for he believed in 
the people. And today the writings of Thomas Paine are reverently treasured 
by all men who hold freedom dear. 

I am thinking, too, of Lincoln, who was struck down by an assassin amidst 
the strain and anxiety that attended the end of the Civil War. What vast 

195 



unfinished dreams and concern for the future filled the brain of Lincoln when 
he died. Would America follow through with the great aims for which so 
many of her sons had just given their lives? Would troubled, quarreling 
America find its way to a better life for all? Would it walk with steady step 
or falter on the way? Would it stride with clear objectives, or grope dimly 
through misunderstanding and error? 

Lincoln raised objectives which as yet can be said to be only half-realized. 
But before his assassination he saw the main stumbling block to progress 
removed. He saw slavery abolished in America. 

And I am thinking of another great President whose ordeal so strangely 
paralleled that of the man we now mourn, and whose sad end contains so 
many critical lessons for the living that he deserves more than passing memory 
in this hour — Woodrow Wilson. His story is one of terrible and costly failure. 
It comprises a grim sermon for the living that I think the great man who just 
died would like to have called to your attention. For Roosevelt tried to achieve 
what Wilson failed to achieve, but died before the issue was decided, leaving 
its fate in our hands. 

Wilson saw the aims by which half the world had been led to victory — his 
Fourteen Points and his dream of the League of Nations to preserve peace — 
trampled down by cynics. When he was reminded that the people would 
ultimately vindicate him, he replied: 

"Our enemies have poisoned the wells of public opinion. They have made 
the people believe that the League of Nations is a great juggernaut, the object 
of which is to bring war and not peace to the world." 

In his last public speech he declared out of a bitter heart; "I have seen 
fools resist Providence before., and I have seen their destruction — such destruc- 
tion as will come upon these again — utter destruction and contempt." 

Our great President Roosevelt did something more than the others. He 
pioneered in mastering the mechanics of peace and freedom, the material 
relations among nations without which freedom is a mere slogan. He planned, 
organized and led the fight for human good with a practical efficiency seldom 
matched in history, and with a completeness of vision achieved by few men. 
He recognized that freedom cannot endure side by side with poverty, hunger, 
or lack of opportunity. He laid the pattern of a just and enduring peace based 
on world cooperation and mutual prosperity. Mindful of the depression that 
engulfed mankind in disillusion after the last war, he drew plans for full 
employment and expanding welfare in the peace, even while laying the military 
plans for victory. 

All this he envisioned in the face of the greatest difficulties, and carried 
his plans forward to the very eve of victory. 

The rest is up to us. If you grieve the passing of our President, then 

196 



translate that grief into determination that the forthcoming San Francisco 
conference of the United Nations shall not fail of its purpose. For without 
that, your tears will be only rain on a lonely tombstone. 

The death of any friend makes you look at the sky, look at your hands. 
It makes you marvel not so much at death as at the miracle of life itself. 

Few leave this life willingly. The sky is so blue, the sun so warm, the 
pleasures of life so desirable. Yet our President, like the thousands now dying 
in battle, sacrificed his life in order that yours may be made a little better. 

We have inherited a great responsibility. 



MR. GRIGGS AND THE PEOPLE 



(ILWU Dispatcher, May, 1945) 

Mr. Griggs of the foreign language paper Nagotchka Polodski leaned far 
forward in his seat, listening intently to a melancholy looking diplomat who 
was addressing a plenary session of the United Nations Conference. 

The chandelier of the golden-walled Opera House was a purplish, leaf-like 
cluster resembling an artichoke beginning to flower. Mr. Griggs' seat in the 
second balcony was at approximately the same height as this chandelier. 

The powerful spotlights that turned the stage into a lake of light gave off 
great heat, and Mr. Griggs had loosened his collar. The orating diplomat far 
below spoke imperfect English, and Griggs had difficulty understanding every 
word. 

To make matters worse, the man next to him kept up an intermittent 
chatter of deprecatory remarks that ate into Griggs' patience like acid. He was 
a sour, aging man who imagined he was displaying great wisdom by foreseeing 
hazard and failure in every word and deed of the inference. 

At this point he said: "More oratory, but like the rest of them, he doesn't 
say anything." 

Up to now Griggs had suffered these jibes without comment. They were 
not addressed to him, or to anyone, for that matter. The man just clucked 
them out abstractly. But to Griggs any disparaging remarks about the con- 
ference were personal insults. The four thousand readers of Nagotchka 
Polodski had sent him to San Francisco to report success, not failure. If the 
conference failed, he felt his readers would hold him personally responsible. 

"And why," he asked, "do you think he isn't saying anything? Don't you 
have ears to hear?" Griggs' voice was syrupy with sarcasm^ 

197 



The man smiled condescendingly. "It's just talk," he said. "He isn't saying 
anything." 

"He says they are here to establish an enduring peace," insisted Griggs. 
"He says that we must have unity in peace as we have had unity in war. He 
says that another war will destroy mankind. He says we must have freedom 
and prosperity for all. He says that the eyes of all suffering mankind appeal 
to them. What more do you want him to say?" 

The man's smile intensified from condescension to amusement. "Sure. 
Sure. That's what Truman said. That's what Eden said. That's what Molotov 
said. That's what Dr. Soong said. Which one of them hasn't said it? And 
when the Argentine delegates get here, they'll say it. And if they should go 
so goofy with unity that they let Spain in, the delegates of Franco will say it. 
When are they going to get to the point?" 

"They're coming to the point," said Griggs, earnestly. But just then a 
lady in black began poking their shoulders and shushing. 

Griggs leaned forward again and strained his ears. Once more, for the 
fifth time in his speech, the diplomat was reminding them that the eyes of the 
world was on this conference. "As we have been united in war, so must we 
be united in — " 

. Griggs let the words blur and fade away. He ceased listening. Yes, it was 
the same thing from all. Who knew if they meant it? But it was something 
to have them all saying it and forced to say it. That meant something in itself. 
He knew the speaker would not come to the point — at least not in the plain 
words ordinary men react to. 

Roosevelt could do it. Roosevelt could combine the language of statecraft 
with the language of the kitchen sink and produce something to encourage 
all men. And he meant it. That was important. These men were doing their 
best, but they lacked the gift. And more than a few lacked real conviction in 
what they spoke. Griggs knew that. 

No matter. They would found an international organization, that was 
the main thing. It would be better than the League of Nations — far better. It 
would be considerably short of what the readers of Nagotchka Polodski would 
prefer. Admitting the Argentine and barring Poland; denying participation to 
the World Federation, of Trade Unions and refusing to include the right to 
work and education among the principles. All these were bad signs. But not 
fatal. 

An international organization would result and from then on it would be 
up to the political vigor of the people within the various nations to make it 
what they needed. 

Men like this sneering cynic in the seat beside him didn't help matters. 
Griggs did not mind men who frankly admitted defeats and shortcomings. 

198 



But he could not understand men who enjoyed the failure of worthy efforts 
simply because it confirmed their cynicism in predicting it. 

This conference was no failure by a long shot. He, Gregory Griggs (short- 
ened from the old world Gregorovitch Grigoloskoliski) would interpret it all 
in plain words for the readers of Nagotchka Polodski. He, Gregory Griggs, 
could speak the language of hope. 

If only he could mount that rostrum and speak his heart for all the 
bombed out, shell-shocked, over-worked, underpaid millions of the earth! 

Mentally, he pictured himself before the great meeting. "My friends," he 
would begin. (That was how the great Roosevelt always began.) "My friends, 
first we had ten years of depression; then six years of war. And now, one year, 
two years — how long will it take us to finish off the Japanese scoundrels? 
What else do you have in mind? Will it not be enough? Have we lost our 
senses? We are gathered here to decide whether after all this human beings 
shall be allowed to drop explosives on one another. Is there any man here wild 
enough to say they should? Then why shouldn't we outlaw war as the crime 
of murder it is? But to do this, of course we must master the art of living in 
peace, which means men must have jobs, which means — " 

Griggs was jerked out of his dreaming by an avalanche of applause. For 
a moment he was embarassed, until he realized it was for the diplomat down 
below who had finished his speech. To his amazement, the sour man next to 
him was applauding. 

"Excuse me," said Griggs. "If you didn't like his speech, and you didn't 
think he said anything, why do you applaud?" 

The man looked at his hands bewildered. "Odd, isn't it," he said. "J us t 
habit, I guess. It seems the thing to do. They don't mean their speeches, yet 
they speak. We don't believe them, yet we applaud. Humanity is drowning 
in the insincerity of tradition. What say we have a drink?" 

"But you're wrong," insisted Griggs. "There will be an organization, and 
the people will make it what they want." 

"Oh, the people," said the man. ''So that's your concern. Well, perhaps 
you're right. At least most of them down there talk as if they were afraid of 
the people. If you write for the people, why don't you put them wise to the 
fact. They must have a terrific power if these fellows are afraid of them." 



199 



BLOOD, SWEAT AND CHAMPAGNE 

The war was won — or hat] the war — and emissaries met 

To plan the peace, the finest peace for mankind ever yet. 

What kind of peace? Of what design? And shaped to what man's taste? 

Just what must peace be fashioned of? On what must it be based? 

Some diplomats were slow to get this knowledge through their knobs: 

The only peace that's peace at all is peace thafs based on jobs. 

Now diplomats are funny men who stop at fine hotels, 
And like to have things brought to them whenever they ring bells. 
And some of them are much inclined to view their strange careers 
As merely adding champagne to the blood and sweat and tears. 
And some of them would face their work with more assured en-joyment 
If you could dodge a certain phrase thafs known as n full employment!' 
And some of them have yet to learn that schemes, however neat — 
However clever, will collapse unless the people eat. 

Whatever man or plan that can provide good jobs for all 
Will triumph over all the rest, and those who don't will fall. 
The future is the oyster of whoever licks depression 
And unemployment spells defeat and certain retrogression, 
, i In spite of all diplomacy, this truth may be assumed: 

Whatever cannot give men jobs is just as good as doomed. 

Strange ghosts now haunt the conference where United Nations meet, 
Reminding worried diplomats that people have to eat. 
From the hungry dirty thirties come the ghosts of jobless men 
To confront the fighting forties with their problem once again. 
The war brought jobs and some oj them now work for shipyard bosses, 
And some of them are buried under distant whitewashed crosses. 
And some of them make airplanes; some work in powder plants, 
Some sail the ships upon the sea; some drowned in sailor pants. 
The cheated pre-war unemployed, some living and some dead, 
Who lived among the bumper crops and had to beg for bread. 
They haunt the conference halls and ask: When days of victory come, 
And all the fighting gear is junked, will we be on the bum? s 

And every learned diplomat, beneath his homburg hat, 
Is worried that the question is as blunt and clear as that. 
No peace will be if when war's done depression is resumed. 
Whatever can give jobs will win. Whatever can't is doomed. 

200 




201 




Book Four 



AFTER 
VICTORY 



The Uneasy Peace 



EYES IN THE SKY 

The war of the world is over, 
And the air is filled with confetti. 
The Germans are begging for sausages; 
The Italians are begging spaghetti. 

The Japanese clamor for rice and fish, 
Or crudely commit hari-kari. 
The troops are returning^ intent upon jobs 
And frantically anxious! to many. 

The people are drinking or praying. 
In vent to their joy or sorrow. 
.. . 'They're singing: "Thank God it's over," 
And wondering what comes tomorrow. 

The war of the world is over; 
The refugees rummage in wrecks; 
Manufacturers add up their profits; 
War criminals plead for their necks. 

Hearst drags out the ancient red herring, 
And Stalingrad heroes, once more, 
Are referred to as bums and crackpots, 
The way they were pictured before. 

The Axis lies shattered and broken; 
The enemy's threat is destroyed, 
And Congressmen sound their prediction 
Of eight million soon unemployed. 

A nation with room and resources 
To hous£ and feed' half of creation 
Is glumly forecasting depression 
And want for its own population. 

And here amidst victory's clamor, 
The voice of race hatred is heard, 
And fascism's bigotry echoes 
In a land that has hated that word. 



205 



Yes, the war of the world is over, 
And men by the millions lie dead, 
While the living weep tears or run riot 
In thanks for the peace overhead. 

But the eyes of the dead are upon us, 
Like stars in a troubled night, 
Imploring all men to remember 
The cause and the goal of the fight. 

Let no pledges be junked with the cannon — 
No principles go on the shelves; 
For the promise more sacred than any 
Is the promise men made to themselves. 

A promise voiced louder than cannon, 
Strong, simple and brilliantly clear; 
The full four freedoms, including 
Freedom from want and fear. 

For every man, a job is a right, 
And a share in the world he walks; 
And the freedom to worship as he sees fit, 
Or talk in the way he talks. 

Four freedoms soaked in human blood, 
With faith in human love, 
That shine in the eyes of the countless dead. 
Like stars in the sky above. 

Four Freedoms: We shall eat and talk. 
And pray and work like brothers: 
Not snap like rats for te me and mine** 
Intolerant of the others. 

Yes, the war of the world is over, 
And the eyes of the dead implore 
That those who inherit the future 
Will remember what it was for. 



206 



SELFISH GUY 

It may take longer for America to return to "normal" than I at first 
expected. This is largely owing to a number of stubborn and frugal people who 
are retarding the natural processes of reconversion. I can cite one as an example. 
I won't name him, although I don't know why I should be so considerate of a 
man who is standing in the way of his country's post-war readjustment. 

During the war he was in the Marines, and came out with $486.19, 
including demobilization pay. He showed it to me the night he came home, 
and I begged him to get rid of it. I have known him for about 14 years and 
never before had he succeeded in getting his hands on a larger sum than $20 
at one time. 

I explained to him that as long as he was in possession of this $486.19 
none of us would be safe. 

"They won't stop until they get every cent of it," I told him. "There will 
be no peace, there will be no rest until they have it. Let's take it out right 
now and spend it. Let's get rid of it. It's dangerous." 

As often happens when a poor man gets hold of a little money, it went 
to his head. He closed his fingers around it, and a look I had never seen on 
his face before came over him. "They can go to hell," he said grimly. "I won't 
give them a penny. I'm going to hang onto it." 

In vain, I tried to talk sense into his head. He sat there clutching that 
money and saying, "They can go jump down a sewer. I'm going to hang onto 
this for the wife and kids." 

It wasn't more than three days later that the offensive started. It was a 
pretty tough thing to sit back and watch. They began upping prices a nickel 
here and a nickel there. Then it was a dime here and a dime there. They turned 
the heat on Congress, and price controls began to peel off one at a time. All 
over the nation, men, women and children were being squeezed to the bone. 

On the night before Congress did its main hatchet act on OPA, I went to 
my friend in desperation. "It's not too late," I pleaded. "Take it out tonight 
and get rid of it. Give it back to them. But don't sit there wrecking your 
country. You must have been patriotic at one time, else why did you serve in 
the Marines?" 

No words of mine could move him. He'd stopped eating meat, and he'd 
stopped buying clothes. He was wearing his Marine shirts and shoes. "I can 
take it as long as they can," he said, "and before I'll giwe it to them, I'll 
take it out of the bank and burn it." 

As long as I live I'll never forget the horror that followed. The lid came 
off and they threw the book at him. Prices went higher and higher. Merchants 

207 



got nervous as they looked at the tags on their goods, and began apologizing 
to customers. Up, up, up. 

Mother Nature tricked him, and his wife became pregnant. That rocked 
him on his heels, but still he hung onto some of it. I couldn't stand to watch 
any more. I turned my back for a while until I felt sure no human being could 
withstand the attack he was undergoing. Thinking it must be all over now, I 
turned around, and there he was, battered and scarred, but still hanging onto 
a few bills. 

"I don't care if they kill me," he said. "I won't give it to them." 

He still had $163.42. That was months ago. I visited Him again yesterday. 
He's a changed man. He never laughs any more. His eyes are streaked with 
blood and there are huge bags under them. He's lost about 30 pounds, and the 
old Marine shirt that used to .fit tightly around his muscles now hangs like a 
loose sack. But he's still hanging onto $73.13. 

I didn't have the heart to argue with him. I just patted him on the shoulder 
sadly and went out. Perhaps he doesn't realize what he is doing. It may be 
months before they succeed in getting the last of that money away from him. 
He may be able to string it out for another year. Meanwhile, there will be no 
return to "normal" for anyone in the country until that man is broke again. 



A LESSON FOR THE ILL CLOTHED 

(Apologies to William Shakespeare) ■ 

Friends, veterans, workingmen, clean out jour ears; 
I come to bury the New Deal, not to praise #.$j » 
The failures of great causes live after them; 
The good intentions are oft interred with their bones. 

So let it be with this one. The noble Republicans 

Have said the New Deal was communistic: 

If so, then it hath died partly by its own hand, 

For sternly did the New Dealers denounce communism ', 

Thus showering blows' upon their own heads. 

Vehemently they swore they'd never interfere 
With private business enterprise or the capitalistic system. 
View now the New Deal's corpse as solemn proof 
They kept their word in letter and in deed. 

208 



Here under leave of Truman and the rest, 

For Truman is an honorable man; 

So are they all, all honorable men, 

1 come to speak at the Neiv Deal's funeral. 

It was my friend, in spite of grievous faults. 
But Republicans say it was communistic; 
And Republicans are honorable men. 
It gave me WPA when I was unemployed, 
Acknowledged labor's right to organize. 

Were these New Deal provisions communistic? 
When corporations cried, the New Deal wept: 
Communism should be made of sterner stuff; 
Yet Republicans say it was communistic; 
And Republicans are honorable, men. 

When business crashed and bankers screamed in fright, 
The New Deal snatched them from the brink of doom, 
And saved their selfish hides; was this communism? 
Yet bankers say it was communistic; 
And sure, bankers are honorable men. 

I speak not to disprove what Republicans say, 

But here I am to speak what I do know. 

The virtues of the New Deal which we loved, 

Were those things communistic, more or less. 

T Joe weaknesses from which the New Deal died 

were compromising steps by which it sought 

To shield and to conciliate the brutal enemy it fought. 

But yesterday a forthright New Deal might 

Have stood against the world: now lies it there 

Mute evidence of the awful fate in store 

For all brave knights who charge the forts of greed 

Still swearing loyalty to the foe they fight. 

Mute testimony of what sad end befalls 

Those who challenge capitalism, yet contend 

They are capitalism's defender and loyal friend. 

The fate of causes essentially socialistic 

Which swear by the Gods they're anti-communistic. 



209 



Oh, fellow Americans, were I disposed to stir 
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage, 
I should do Truman wrong, and industrialists wrong, 
Whom, you all know, are such honorable men. 

I will not do them vjrong; I rather choose 

To wrong the war's brave dead, to wrong myself and you 

Than I will wrong such honorable men. 

But here's a lesson which the New Deal taught us; 

A lesson for the homes of the ill-housed, 

A lesson for the ill-fed to remember, 

A lesson which ill-clothed men may pocket, 

A lesson for liberal politicians to memorize 

And for labor leaders to hang on their walls. 

You can never defeat the forces of greed 

By adopting their slogans as your own. 

You can never win a victory for the people 

Under an anti-communistic banner. 

You cannot cure the evils of the capitalist system 

By pledging allegiance to the same. 

You cannot fight capitalism with one hand 

And protect it with the other. 

If you champion the common man or favor social planning, 
You are communistic whether you like it or not. 
If you cooperate with your enemy you will die 
With a knife in your back. 



"SURROUND THE USSR!" 
THEY CRY ONCE MORE 

In most American magazines and newspapers today, the efforts of Amer- 
ican diplomats to out-smart Russia take precedence over the question of 
whether Americans shall have secure jobs and fair opportunities in the next 
few years. 

Since these same publications assume with a kind of fatalism that we, in 

210 



America, will have at least one depression soon, and possibly a series of 
depressions, interspersed by temporary booms, it would seem our argument 
with Russia was all over before it had reached its storm center. For essentially, 
that argument is whether our own system of capitalist free enterprise is 
superior to their planned Socialist economy. The answer, of course, lies in 
which system can prevent depressions. 

If losers of arguments in this world admitted their error, and retired, 
history would be much gentler reading. As it is, the first fight usually begins 
where the argument ends, and therein lies the world's greatest danger today. 

For the sake of anyone who happens to be baffled by the complicated 
reports of our relations with Russia, I'll review the picture briefly. 

The Russian people, at the close of the first World War, overthrew the 
Czar, abolished the capitalist system of private industrial ownership, and 
established the first Socialist society in which all factories, mines, railroads and 
resources became the public or collectively owned property of the people. 

This shocked the governments of the major capitalist countries to such an 
extent that all of them, including the U.S., sent military expeditions to aid the 
remnants of the Czar's old army in crushing the Soviets and re-establishing 
private enterprise. The expeditions failed. (Incidentally, the word "Soviet" 
means People's Council.) 

As the next best thing, the capitalist nations established a chain of buffer 
states along the Russian border; namely, Finland, Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, 
Poland and Rumania. The capitalist governments were as frankly anti-Soviet 
then as they are today, and nobody made any bones about the fact that these 
smaller nations were intended as a ring of forts encircling Russia, and as bases 
for an eventual invasion. 

They were all dominated by bitterly anti-Soviet forces and the merest 
mention of communism in any of those buffer states was treated as a major 
crime. 

Of course, the Russian people had a miserable time getting their industries 
rolling. As a matter of fact, they didn't have many industries to speak of and 
had to start practically from scratch and develop them. 

They lacked tools, machinery, skilled workers — they lacked practically 
everything but revolutionary zeal. Nevertheless, by grim perseverance they 
succeeded in an incredibly short period of time in transforming Russia from 
one of the most backward to one of the foremost industrial nations. 

Although they did not achieve a frigidaire in every home, the standard of 
living was improved many fold. By the hugest educational program in history, 
they raised literacy from a tiny fraction of the population to better than 90 
per cent. 

.Meanwhile the newspapers in capitalist nations drenched their populations 

211 



with false reports to the effect that Russian industry was a failure, the people 
were enslaved, their army was no good, and their leaders were tyrants. 

Later, when Russia. became a desperately needed ally in the war -against 
Hitler, these lies were blithely contradicted. We learned that 'Russia's Socialist 
industry was a giant capable of standing up to the Germans and hurling them 
back. We discovered that the Russian people were ready to defend their 
Socialist state with a morale that was unexcelled. 

We were shown that the Red Army stood second to none in strength, 
morale, technical excellence, quality of equipment, and brilliance of leadership. 
And most of our press suddenly discovered that the Soviet government heads 
were warm-hearted, genial men, motivated by a cbsire to improve the lives 
of the common people. 

As soon as the war was over, however (as was to be expected), the cap- 
italist governments resumed their anti-Soviet hysteria. The capitalist press 
did an about face and once again we are reading that Russian people are 
miserable, their army is a mob of tramps with rusty guns, and their leaders 
are maniacs. 

Once again, our prime diplomatic aim is frankly described as building a 
chain of forts and bases around Russia, and Life magazine is able to editorial- 
ize: "There are no absolute guarantees of peace. We must go on winning our 
war with Russia even while we strive our utmost to prevent it." 

The fact that most of the people of Europe, inspired by the achievement 
of the Soviets and the knowledge that depressions can be eliminated under 
Socialism, are inclined to follow that road, is interpreted in the capitalist press 
as "Russian Aggression." Diplomatic efforts of the Soviets to prevent us from 
our frankly stated objective of surrounding them with a ring of hostile forts, 
is viewed in the same light. 

Using this kind of logic, it is no wonder that in Europe's court of public 
opinion American "diplomacy" is losing all the arguments and making "gains" 
only where military force is exerted. 



212 



THOUGHTS ON A LAMB CHOP 

Don't cry little lamb chop, marooned on a tray, 
At prices no sensible person will pay. 
Poor little lamb chop, scowled at and frowned, 
By housewives who can't pay a dollar a pound. 

Garnished with parsley, you lie there forsaken 
And always return to the icebox untaken. 
Day after day, in a pyramid prcmd, 
Your charms are exposed to the passing crowd. 

But still you are shunned while your friends become thinner, 
And no one suggests that you come home to dinner. 
Withheld from the market, in warehouses frozen, 
For so 77i any months, yet you he there unchosen. 

Don't cry little lamb chop, so luscious and tender, 
Alone and aloof in your highly priced splendor, 
The rich will discover the poor will not buy 
When prices are pegged to the clouds in the sky. 

Prices that mount ivhen men hunger for gold, 
Come crashing to earth u'hen the goods are unsold. 
We may have lamb chops, and you may have friends 
When the present insane cost of living descends. 

Oh beautiful la7nb chop, so near, yet so far; 
As naked as truth and as bright as a star; 
Some day in the future our teeth will embrace 
Your eager young charms with a smile on our face. 

But the times are uncertain, the people afraid, 
And our love's consummation may well be delayed 
Until mankind, grown angry, frustrated and thin, 
Will take the advice so oft voiced by Mike Quin. 

And will rise up in organized strength and declare 
The right of all lamb chops to equally share 
In a Socialist life in which mankind will get 
The abundance produced by its labor and sweat. 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF CHEESE 



By MlCHAELOVITCH QUINOGOLOOPHUS 

I penetrated Truman's curtain of cheese. For months, disguised as a 
Georgia cotton broker, my vest decorated with gravy stains, and my breath 
perfumed with bourbon, I eluded the dread FBI and explored the secret hell 
of blended whiskey and benzedrine that lies behind the grim curtain of arti- 
ficial Camembert and Cheddar which conceals the U.S.A. (United States of 
America) from the cultured portions of the globe. 

It took a long time to make the decision. It took days, weeks, months. 
Finally I determined to risk it. Somebody must penetrate the veil of secrecy 
and learn the truth about the strange nation which could blow down entire 
cities with a single bomb; yet finds itself unable to build simple cottages for 
its people to live in. . 

The American people are starving. I saw this with my own eyes. Although 
they produce enough food to feed half the earth and annually dump mountains 
of fruits and vegetables to keep prices high, they are starving. I went into a 
restaurant on the main street of one of their major cities and ordered the 
$1.50 dinner. The vegetable soup was thinly flavored hot water and with less 
than a kopeck's worth of carrots and cabbage floating in it. The salad was 
a wilted lettuce leaf with a pinch of cold slaw. The roast had been sliced by a 
magnificent machine which peeled off paper-thin servings that became lost 
in the cavities of your teeth when you attempted to chew them. The vegetables 
had been overcooked and left sweating on a steam table for so long that all 
the nourishment had vanished before they reached your plate, and of these 
they gave you a heaping-teaspoonful. 

Dessert was a small mound of ice cream about the size of a moth ball, 
with one cookie measuring an inch and a half in diameter, and a quarter of 
an inch in thickness. The coffee was pure poison, the establishment not having 
cleaned the coffee urn for several months. 

While I was eating this, someone stole my hat. 

All America is suffocating under a blanket of fear and secrecy. When I 
went to the front gate of their main atom bomb experimental laboratory and 
asked if I could go in and take a few pictures with my Redie (the foreign 
version of the American Brownie), the cossack on guard spit tobacco juice 
from his mouth and said, "No." 

While in the United States, I went to a few movies. They were all about 
murder. The heroines seemed to be prostitutes, or tried to act like them, and 
the heroes were brutal stool pigeons who went around spying on the people 

214 



and arresting them for murder. In America, the movie companies own the 
theaters, or else force the owners to show their pictures whether they like it or 
not, so all pictures are shown, good or bad, and all alike are advertised as 
marvelous. 

I visited one neighborhood covering hundreds of thousands of acres, in 
which all the houses were almost identically the same, and were built side by 
side with no place between them for mile after mile. The furniture was 
practically the same in all of them, and the people dressed alike, and lived the 
same kind of lives. I asked them what they feared more than anything else, and 
they said: "Regimentation." 

I asked an average citizen what he thought about politics, and he said 
they were a lot of graft. I asked him about Big Business, and he said that Big 
Business ran the country and was crooked, but then, after all, everybody was 
crooked, and if you got a chance you'd do just the same, so you couldn't blame 
them. I asked him how a person could get rich, and he said: "Get yourself 
some kind of racket." When I questioned him about his country's future, he 
said there was going to be a big depression, also a war with Russia. 

Americans, as a whole, seem to believe that the most important and sacred 
aim of life is business, which consists of buying something for one price and 
selling it for a higher price. The successful business man is one who can 
bankrupt his rivals and take over their trade and properties. A few men have 
been so efficient at this that they now own the bulk of the industries and 
resources. 

American newspapers and magazines speak with the utmost contempt of 
labor, and blame most of the nation's ills on the efforts of working men to 
organize and get a living wage for their toil. The labor unions in America 
have tremendous power, which they could exert to great benefit, and they are 
retarded by a curious game. Whenever a labor union begins to fight for some- 
thing sensible, the employers accuse it of being Red. From then on, the union 
wastes most of its energy trying to prove it isn't Red. Of late, however, quite 
a few unions have begun to wake up to the fact that anybody who demands 
benefits for the working man, is for all practical purposes, a Red. 



215 



NEWSIE 



1 sell papers. 
Don't blame me 
For the lies they print 
And the news they see. 

Getcha paper! 
Sports and finance. 
Atom bomb found 
In statesman's pants. 

Do 1 make any money 
Selling these things? 
Yes, lady, I hope 
To retire at Palm Springs. 

Expert says war profits 
Only a joke. 
Millionaires say 
They're practically broke. 

That patch in my pants, 
And this dirty old suit? 
Why, lady, 1 we fir it 
Because it looks cute* 

Broker and model 
Discovered in bed. 
Russia* s Joe Stalin 
Exposed as a Red. 

Yeah, I hear the whiskey 
People are th'mkin' 
Q' running my mug 
As a Man of Distinction. 

Byrnes says we ought to 
Declare war on Russia 
For seizing the Junkers* 
Estates in East Prussia. 

Yes, newspaper publishers 
Are a generous pack. 
They'd gladly give you 
The shirt off my back. 



Father slays six. 
Young giri dismembered. 
Bank robber shot. 
Yuletide remembered. 

They'd never allow me 
To earn my beans 
If these papers would fit 
Into slot machines. 

Economists say 
Future dark. 
Severed head 
Found in park. 

They're already trying 
To sell them on tacks 
With a slot where the honest 
Can drop in the tax, 
But they're stolen as soon 
As they turn their backs, 

Heh, heh! 

No, J never had time 
To make a success. 
Too busy earning 
My living, I guess. 

Discouraged? Well, no. 

My future lies 

With the march of the organized 

Working guys. \ 

Do I read these papers? 
No, hardly at all. 
But 1 read the handwriting 
Qn the wall. 

Here you are, mister. 
Read if you wish. 
Qr it may coffte in handy 
To wrap up a fish. 



21* 



ONE KIND OF FAITH 

(People's World, February, 1947) 

The editors of Life and Time magazines would like to persuade humanity 
that the bulk of our troubles nowadays is owing to a lack of faith on the part 
of the people. Many are apt to find this convincing, because Americans today 
do not have much faith in anything. Faith is lacking, and from this it is easy 
to conclude that all we need do is supply that faith, or inspire it, and our main 
troubles are cured. 

But faith itself is no magic state of mind that can surmount all obstacles. 
In fact it is no more substantial than the proposition you invest it in. When 
people lose faith it is generally because they begin to suspect that the thing 
they believed in is not all that they supposed. 

For instance, in Columbus' time, a majority of men believed the world 
was flat, and they had faith in this concept. Yet no amount of faith or confi- 
dence could prevent their calculations from going astray. Many, no doubt, 
prayed to God to support their reasoning. Nevertheless, they had to be dis- 
illusioned. The world was not flat. 

They did not relinquish their false notion, however, without considerable 
pain. The change did not come all of a sudden. First they were assailed by 
annoying doubts. Then, as evidence refuting them began to pile up, they 
became irritable and nervous. 

There were no psychiatrists in those days, but they had philosophers and 
so-called wise men to whom they could appeal for solace. Others took to drink. 
Some drank of the cup of humility and admitted they were wrong. Many 
remained embittered until they died. 

Columbus, however, believed that the world was round, and he happened 
to be right. Can we say this was because he had faith? Of course not. This was 
no contest in which he who had the most faith would win. It simply means 
he invested his faith in a sound proposition, and won. The others invested their 
faith in a bubble, and lost. 

It is true that. without faith — that is to say, confidence in his proposition 
and courage to push forward — Columbus would not have succeeded. Some 
other man, then, would have discovered that the world is round, and we would 
be celebrating an annual Tony Gazoni day, instead of an annual Columbus 
day. 

In all wars, both sides appeal to their populations to have iron faith. And 
both sides do manage to growl up varying degrees of faith, which they invest 

217 



in opposite purposes. But one side loses, often because of a lack of cannon 
rather than a lack of faith. 

Life and Time, however, are not alone concerned with faith in particular 
projects and theories here on earth. They also stress a need for faith in a 
Supreme Being with a master plan that will come out very well in the end. 
This presents little difficulty because nearly everyone feels that some day in 
the future "everything will come out in the wash." Some say 50 years, some 
a thousand years, but they feel eventually mankind will get some sense and 
we'll begin to enjoy this abundant world. 

The concern of people today is not for the ultimate triumph of good on 
earth, but for their own welfare in the mangle of the "wash" that everything 
is supposed to eventually "come out" in. History being replete with so many 
massacres and disasters in which the innocent are crushed as indifferently as 
the guilty, they have legitimate doubts regarding their own prospects. They 
also have sense enough to realize that no amount of belief in God can make 
an unsound proposition work. 

Let us examine some of the things in which Americans lack faith today, 
and we'll see the difficulty. They lack faith in the economic system of capitalism 
under which we are living. Even business men lack faith in it. That is why 
we have wholesale predictions of a depression. The capitalist system is a thing 
as illogical and unworkable as the ancient belief that the world is flat. Most 
people are coming to realize this. Their lack of faith is a matter of intelligence. 

People have lost faith in the moral code of the last century which argued 
that virtue was rewarded by personal prosperity, and unworthiness was pun- 
ished by poverty. This is nonsense, and people know it. 

Organized religion, although it is now advertising a new boom with all 
the promotion technique of a real estate development, has suffered greatly 
from a decline in "faith" on the part of the people. Men and women can no 
longer be convinced that they can make an unworkable social system operate 
smoothly by praying to God, or that an inadequate wage will stretch over the 
needs of a family if they burn a candle in a church. 

President Roosevelt, with his New Deal program of reforms, did succeed 
in reviving faith among Americans. The debacle in which that movement 
ended has momentarily staggered many. But a new faith is already shaping in 
American minds, and it will find its expression in the organized struggle for 
bread and justice that will meet the coming crisis. 

It is faith in the ability of people to organize, fight for, and win social 
changes that are necessary to the immediate welfare and future progress of 
mankind. 



218 



THE RAGE OF THE COMMON MAN 



(Dispatcher, January, 1947} 

Mr. O'Brien, who had been reading a newspaper, removed the pipe from 
his mouth, "Say, Murphy, I thought this was going to be the age of the 
common man." 

Mr. Murphy nodded his head sagely. "Aye, and men are still very common, 
if that's what you mean?" 

" 'Twas more than that they predicted," said O'Brien. " 'Twas to be an 
era of rising living standards and better jobs. I seen it on a poster in Terry's 
bar during the war." 

"Indeed, and where is the poster now?" . 

"How should I know, Murphy? In the garbage can, perhaps. Or maybe 
Terry used it to start a fire." 

" 'Twas ever thus, O'Brien. I think that when a better life comes for the 
likes of us, it will not be advertised in advance on expensive posters." 

O'Brien crumpled the newspaper in his hands and threw it on the floor. 
"And where are we headed, Murphy? Can you tell me that? There is talk of 
nothing else but depression and another war. They blame labor for the whole 
mess, and not a man in the nation seems to know if he's going or coming." 

" 'Tis the nature of men who have everything to blame all difficulties 
on those who have nothing, O'Brien. Labor does not own the factories or run 
the government. Yet every time there is a mess, they blame labor. But, in the 
end, there is one thing you can always say for the workingman; he does not 
get rich. The arguments storm and the battles rage, and in the end, the 
workingman is always broke." 

O'Brien twisted his face into an expression that indicated great strain. "I 
have been trying to think, Murphy. No matter how many times we strike, 
before long we have to strike all over again. My grandfather spent half his 
life striking with the Knights of Labor. My father struck twenty times while 
he was alive and only stopped when his bunions kept him off the picket line. 
Myself I have fought so many strikes I can't remember them all, and here we 
are, apparently, right back where we began again " 

"Aye, 'tis the economic system, O'Brien, with its booms and slumps, and 
every once in a while when things get too complicated for them, they have a 
war to try to pull themselves out. This louses up the works with depressions, 
inflations, and panics, and what not, which throw wages and conditions and 
employment out of joint. When there's inflation, you have to fight for more 
money tp keep alive. When there's a depression, you have to strike against 

219 



wage cuts and layoffs. And so it goes. But with all this, we make some progress. 
There's the eight-hour day, for instance, and many another improvement your 
grandfather didn't have." 

O'Brien scratched his head. "So it is, but where are we headed, Murphy? 
Has no one a plan or a program?" 

"Aye, everybody has a program of some kind. But all the programs are 
not the same. Labor's program is to fight the robbery of inflation today, and 
the equal robbery of depression tomorrow. To protect the welfare of the 
common man as best it can from the slumps and booms of a crazy economic 
system." 

"Indeed. And tell me, Murphy, what is the program of the employers?" 

"Their particular program, O'Brien, is to make money for themselves and 
to fight labor. To keep wages from increasing when prices are high, and to 
reduce wages when prices are low. But they also have a general program 
which is becoming more and more of a concern to them. That is to preserve 
the crazy and obsolete economic system that permits them to own the earth 
and operate it for their personal profit, with booms and slumps and wars, and 
booms and slumps and wars, and the working man, meanwhile, battling day 
in and day out to keep a roof over his head and food in his children's mouths." 

O'Brien pondered the problem with a serious expression. "And how long, 
Murphy, do you think the workingman will put up with being fried by the 
economic system, with a picket line marching around the edge of the pan?" 

"Not forever, O'Brien. That's what has the employers worried. The 
promised 'Age of the Common Man,' turned out to be a fancy poster as 
appealing and misleading as the pictures of shapely bathing beauties they use 
to advertise beer. It is the rage of the common man that employers fear will 
come next." 



220 



"That Men May Walk and Laugh 
in the Sun" 

THE DIAPER BRIGADE 



Here come they, wailing, screaming into life, 
Glub-gtubbmg in their basinets and cribs, 
With tiny ribboned bonnets on their heads 
And animals embroidered on their bibs. 

Here come they, like a legion to the fray, 
Their didies are white banners in the breeze, ■ 
And all we flan laboriously today 
Is des fined to be rearranged by these. 

The fears and bitter worries that enshroud 
Our brains and twist our faces all awry, 
Will scatter like the clouds before the wind 
Of their triumphant laughter when we die. 

And all our thumping, pounding, nailing down 
The future like a carpet to the floor, 
Will be ripped out and their young feet shall tread 
Where human beings never dared before. 

How diligently life will strive to train 
These new ones to our narrow, fearful ways, 
And bend each tyny energetic brain 
To fit this social, economic maze. 

Tradition's mold will try to force their lives 
To painful, twisted patterns of ourselves, 
And learned men will beat them on the heads, 
With dull and musty volumes from the shelves 



22! 



But this wave is not destined to accept 
The mess of cruel customs we have massed, 
And these shall rise like rebels into life 
To sweep aside the errors of the past. 

All hail the screaming diaper brigade! 
Here come new men and women to the earth. 
Their hands will claim the new and better life 
To which our groping, struggling must give birth. 

Their energies will run full, strong and free, 
Their brains will not be muddied by despair, 
And they will tear down fences and rebuild 
The world upon a pattern bright and fair. 

Not scornfully, we hope, but they will laugh 
At our crude, gloomy groping after truth 
Which they will grasp quite readily for their own, 
And flourish in the confidence of youth. 

These things we reasoned painfully and slow, 

To them will be apparent at a glance. 

The roads we pioneer with sweat and toil 

Are paths down which their joyous feet will dance. 



DID YOU EVER SEE A DREAM 
FIGHTING? 

(From New Masses) 

"The Devil is a practical man," said my Grandfather, "but God is a 
dreamer." That was his explanation for the misery of the world. In our 
neighborhood it seemed so, for the affairs of evil appeared to go forward 
with great efficiency, whereas the rewards of virtue were difficult to perceive. 

My mother had a different idea. She told me never to cease dreaming, for 
then I would never grow old. 

There isn't much we've done with our hands that didn't exist as a dream 

222 



first. Men dreamed of flying for centuries before the Wright Brothers managed 
to get their contraption off the ground. I don't think they ever dreamed of 
dropping bombs. But that's one of the risks you take in realizing a dream. 

Dreaming is different from thinking. No man can shake a dream out of 
his head. Once he's dreamed it, his eyes will try to find it or his hands to make 
it. Nothing can stop him and he can't stop himself. The hungry man dreams 
of food. The sick dream of cures. The slave dreams of freedom and young 
people dream of love. Out of our pains and needs and desires come the visions 
we try to create with our hands or pound out of life with our fists. And through 
it all the dominant dream of centuries has been for an abundant and friendly 
society. 

America dreamed well and worked lustily, and once it seemed we'd 
achieved the goal. If growing enough food, building, and making things could 
do it, we'd have been all right. But that wasn't enough. 

We founded our democracy and opened a frontier that attracted all the 
dreamers of the world. Men don't pull up stakes and cross an ocean unless 
they're capable of dreaming strong dreams. Each one came with something in 
his head that he was determined to create or achieve. 

We ripped up forests, spread farms, raised cities, dug mines, dammed 
rivers, girdled the country with railroad tracks, and strung it with wires. The 
crops came boiling out of the soil and the goods poured from our factories in 
volume and variety unheard of before. Abundance was needed and we created 
it. Then what happened to our dream? 

Grammar schools pumped that dream into our veins like a potent stimulent. 
I grew up in the cockiest age of American confidence. We were full of corn- 
flakes, sass and vinegar. We gathered in the schoolyards, Irish, Swedish, 
Italian, Negro, Chinese, Greek, English, Scotch, Russian, German — every- 
thing. We pledged allegiance to the flag, then marched into classrooms to 
learn to our disappointment that the wars, conquests, and adventures of history 
were over — that Americanism had smoothed it all out — that the perfect society 
had been achieved and there remained nothing for us to do but live our lives 
in derby hats and overalls. 

How enviously we read of Washington crossing the Delaware, and of 
Lincoln freeing the slaves, and wished we had been born sooner. Now all was 
civilization and perfection. But in spite of this disappointment, we were proud 
of the achievement and proud to be Americans. We believed the dream, and 
so did our teacher, old lady Robertson. We believed the world outside was a 
big cheese and all we had to do was slice ourselves as much as we wanted. 
We lost our parents' nationalities in the schoolrooms and graduated 
uniform American products, parroting the same slang and sharing similar 
ambitions. 

223 



Then came the real education. 

Growing enough food and prodncing enough goods wasn't enough. Work- 
ing hard wasn't enough.. All the vast acres of America weren't enough. Every- 
thing existed in great plentitude: brains, energy ^akill, land, resources, tools, 
factories, and water. But it wasn't enough. 

The American dream was still an airy thing of the Imagination, as far 
from reality as it was when it first existed as a vision in the brains of American 
pioneers. 

Then we began to look around us, and we began to think. We began to 
investigate — what becomes of all this food after we grow it? What becomes 
of all the great wealth we create? Who owns it and how? What -is capital? 
What are profits? What are depressions? 

We began to see the need for a collective, friendly society m which human 
beings would cooperate with each other for their mutual welfare. We dis- 
covered that our own welfare was dependent on that of our' neighbor's, that 
his sickness or misery soon affected us, that his health and prosperity would 
reflect favorably upon us. We soon realized that the American dream could 
be achieved only in socialism. So we began to work for it. 

That is the story of thousands of young Americans today. Because the 
Russian people were the first to tackle the job of building socialism, we are 
classified as dangerous radicals advocating foreign "isms." Capitalism wallows 
in its own dirt and failure and blazes in the insanity of war, meanwhile calling 
us "dangerous." 

The American dream is a strong one. It was born in the brains of rev®^ 
lutionists and pioneers. It was passed on from generation to generation. It's 
a composite of all the fire and courage and laughter in history. It's sure and 
relentless. It will be realized. 

The American dream is the hope of all humanity for a decent, good natured 
society where a man can work and- laugh and have friends. It's not something 
to hope for. It's a thing we can plan and build. 

All this depression, trouble, and war — it's not meaningless. It's learning 
a lesson — learning the hard way, but learning. 

The troubles and conflicts of this day are the fire in which we will forge 
the American dream and make it a reality. There's one' ra6re Delaware to 
cross and one more frontier to pioneer. But that's all right. We can do it. . 



224 



MURPHY AND O'BRIEN: 
ON PRIVATE PROPERTY 

"This looks like as good a place as any to sit down," said Mr. Murphy. 
A sign tacked to the tree read: "Private property of Mr. Blodget. Tres- 
passers will be prosecuted." 

Mr. Murphy eased the load from his shoulders and sprawled comfortably 
on the earth. 

"But the sign," said O'Brien. " 'Tis against the law." 
"The law," said Mr. Murphy, "concerns the intellect. 'Tis something man 
conceived of in his brain and has no relation to nature. I am resting my feet 
and the seat of my pants. Not my head. Those parts of a man operate by' the 
laws of nature, which needs no writing on signs." 

"Just the same, the law has feet, too, Murphy, and can use them to kick 
you in the pants, regardless of philosophy." Reluctantly, he put down his load 
and stretched out on the sod. 

. "Ah, the feet feel grand to be off them," said Murphy, removing his shoes. 
Across the road was another sign on another tree: "Private property of Mr. 
Schniff. Trespassers will be prosecuted." 

O'Brien picked up a clod of dirt. " 'Tis a beautiful world, Murphy. And 
isn't it odd, when you come right down to it, 'tis nothing but a big hunk of 
dirt." He squeezed the clod and it crumbled through his fingers. 
"Dirt ye be to dirt returneth," said Murphy. 
"What are you talking about?" said O'Brien. 

' 'Tis a biblical phrase, I believe. Something about man being a hunk of 
dirt. Out of the dirt he comes and back into it he goes, and that's life." 
"Yes," said O'Brien, "everything's dirt, more or less." 
"Even my feet are dirty," said Murphy. 

O'Brien picked up another clod. "And this piece of dirt belongs to Mr. 
Blodget," he mused. 

"Let me see it," said Murphy. He took the clod and studied it. "How could 
he prove it, I wonder? His name is nowhere on it." He heaved the clod at the 
sign across the road. It broke and fell to the ground. 
"Now it belongs to Mr. Schniff," said O'Brien. 
"Aye," said Mr. Murphy. "And some day he'll be buried in it." 
"You get to talking about dirt," said O'Brien, "and pretty soon nothing 
makes sense. What are the nations, Murphy, but big pieces of dirt?" 

"And you get to fighting about dirt," said Murphy, "and there you have a 
war." 

225 



"People fighting over dirt and throwing dirt at each other," said O'Brien. 
r-^ 'The same dirt they came out of and go back into. Dirt they are and 
dirt they fling, and that, I suppose is civilization." 

"A man could go crazy if he thought enough about it." 

"I sometimes think, O'Brien, the world is so crazy now, there's no place 
to go but sane." 

"What would a sane man do in a crazy world, Murphy? They'd lock him 
up and say he was crazy." 

M Tis not the dirt that's wrong, but the dirt grabbers." 

"Suppose," said Mr. O'Brien, "you took a spoonful of Germany and a 
spoonful of France and a spoonful of England and mixed them all up. What 
would you have?" 

"Dirt," said Mr. Murphy. 

M 'Twas here before we came, and 'twill remain when we're gone. So what's 
the use of fighting over it and rubbing each other's noses in it? There's dirt 
for all and dirt to spare." 

"We're wallowing in it, O'Brien, when we could just as well grow a 
garden and enjoy life while we're here." 

"Aye, but where the devil are you going to grow your garden when there's 
scarce a place you can sit your behind without violating the law? This piece 
belongs to Mr. Blodget and that other piece over there belongs to Mr. Schniff. 
And you and I, Murphy — we have no dirt but the dirt we are." 

"The dirt is all claimed and possessed, O'Brien, with a sign on each and 
every piece and no doubt a mortgage to boot. The only way one man can get 
any dirt is to take it away from another." 

"Then when he gets it, Murphy, that's the end of his peace of mind because 
everyone else is naturally trying to take it away from him." 

"That's a terrible thought, O'Brien. A big piece of dirt whirling through 
eternity, inhabited by dirty people, fighting over dirt and throwing dirt at each 
other, and stealing dirt from each other." 

"And when it rains, they make mud pies," said O'Brien. 

"Some day, O'Brien," said Murphy, "we'll have an end to this dirt slinging. 
The people who do all the work will decide to share the dirt together like 
brothers and sisters. And we'll have that garden I've been speaking to you 
about." 

"But what of the Blodgets and Schniffs and the no trespassing signs?" 

"They shall retain for their very own, O'Brien, each and every clod of dirt 
marked plainly with their name and endorsed by the signature of the Lord 
God Almighty." 

"A most fertile idea, Murphy. Most fertile idea." 



226 



WHAT'S A SPARROW? 

They tell me every sparrow that jails 

makes a little disturbance in the atmosphere — 
Rearranges the physical world 
To that infinitesimal extent. 
One less wing against the sky, 
One less nest 

And one less chirping throat. 
A spot of ground enriched 
To nourish seeds 
That burst with green new life 
To meet the sun. 

Aye, what's a sparrow? 

What's a man, for that, 

When men go down by millions in a hell 

Carefully manufactured by themselves, 

And miraculously manage to keep track of it all — 

What's a man? 

To kill for plunder, 

Conquer to enslave, 

Or march in regimented ranks 

To build a tyrant's power — 

Bend the brains of others to your will 

By force of iron and gunpowder — 

That's blood and death 

And darkness on the earth; 

Black terror smothering 

Music out of life. 

But a fight to shield your own 

Or claim your right — 

To rip the whip from tyrant hands 

And free the arms and brains of men — 

That is a cause 

Strong as the urge of men to stand erect, 

True as the need of men to sing and love. 

The cause is the thing. 

A man is not so much 

Lost in the list of casualties that range 



227 



Up to the millions. 

Men who march to death 

Like grains of sand to tip the bloody scales 

In freedom's cause, and die 

Clutching their doubts and personal regrets, 

Relinquishing life, unsatisfied, unlived — 

Unanswered questions, unfulfilled desires 

Crowding their brains with anguish at the end. 

A man's not much 

But to himself he's all 

Awareness of creation, 

Warmth of life— 

The stars, the sky, 

The earth beneath his feet. 

The sense of growing things 

And living friends. 

The urge to work, 

And feel, and breathe, and love. 

And that's a man. 

He's not so much 

When crawling on his knees, 

Afraid to speak, 

Toadying to parasites in power, 

Fed on lies 

And warped by crazy prejudice and greed. 

But standing erect in freedom shared by all, 

He's life itself; 

The power and the cause. 

Aye, we are no bewildered bugs 

Mashed by the violence of circumstance, 

And we are not wild animals 

Clutching and clawing in a game 

Of kill or be killed. 

We have a cause, 

Louder than cannon, 

Brighter than all fires, 

Stronger than death 

And worth the blood of men. 



Ill 



This is the cause for which we march through hell; 

We shall not crawl beneath a tyrant's will, 

Fearing his wrath or currying his favor. 

No hand of iron or gold shall snap 

A whip to rule the labor of our hands, 

Seizing the yield and leaving us the crumbs. 

Nor shall we grope like wage slaves in a slum 

Laboring Idng, receiving just enough 

To rent a crowded tenement and buy 

The food to keep our muscles fit to work. 

Nor shall we wander cold and unemployed, 

Or beg for jobs as if a place in life 

Were sonie stupendous favor handed out 

By those who got here first and won the earth. 

Nor shall we speak in whispers lest the great 

And influential men a)ho order life 

Learn what we think and punish us with want 

For dreaming things of which they disapprove. 

And this is no promise handed down by kings; 
No propaganda wafted from on high. 
This is a cause in common people's hearts, 
Pledged by themselves to those who fight and die. 
A cause that's worth the price of blood and sweat, 
And backed up by the people's guarantee 
That future meti mail Heft her cfdwl not beg, 
But walk togeihei unafraid and free. 



229 



LENIN WAS A NICE GUY 

Lenin was a good-natured little fellow with a warm sense of humor. The 
capitalists of his day had great difficulty convincing people that he was a 
ruthless, cold-hearted demon. In fact, they had so much difficulty that they 
failed completely. 

Even today they approach the business of slandering him with a kind of 
shame-faced apology. He's been dead for over twenty years, but they're still 
afraid of him. They're afraid he might jump out of his grave and start talking 
to the people. 

When they lie about Lenin today, they whisper, and glance nervously 
around them. He's dead, yes. But that look in his eyes, preserved in every 
picture — that warm, kindly twinkle — that doesn't lie. Those patient, confident 
eyes are haunting all Europe today. 

If he was a "great" man in the pompous sense of the word, it would be 
easy to fight him. You could fight him and kill him and bury his smug self- 
importance forever. You could say what you pleased about him in the history 
books and nobody would ever know the difference. 

But how are you going to fight a good-natured little fellow with a warm 
sense of humor? How are you going to lie about him? How are you going to 
bury him? 

It's a new kind of thing, and they're afraid of it. 

Many a man has traveled all the way to Moscow and visited the tomb of 
Lenin, just to assure himself that he's dead — and come away still unconvinced. 
It's hard to call Lenin "great." It's difficult, to say just what he was. Surely he 
had none of the impressive qualities which have become associated with the 
word "great." 

One of the best books ever written is "Memories of Lenin" by his wife 
Krupskaya. There you see the intimate, private life of Lenin — a life lived 
mostly in cheap furnished rooms and flats. In the winter time he carried an 
umbrella and wore rubbers. In summer he rode a bicycle. He lived entirely 
with the common people and never went near the "great." 

He wanted a decent, constructive society. He wanted to change the world 
and make it better. To that end, he studied and planned incessantly. 

You'd think under those circumstances he would have sought out important 
people who had some influence or power. You'd think he'd have brought his 
plans to famous and distinguished men who might do something about it. 

Instead, he sought out carpenters, mechanics, ditch diggers, and people like 
that who could hardly keep a roof over their own heads, let alone change the 
world and build a new society. 

230 



Lenin actually thought that these simple people, grubbing away for a bare 
livelihood could change the whole pattern of society. 

Imagine going to an unemployed bricklayer who didn't know where his 
next meal was coming from, and saying: "I've got here a plan for a new and 
better society called socialism that I'd like to interest you in/* 

It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Well, by God, it turned out he was right. 
These people not only had the power to change society, but they actually did 
so in one-sixth of the world. What's more, they were the only ones who did 
have the power to do it, and the only ones who would have been interested 
in doing so. 

Furthermore, when you come to think of it, it was very logical. If you're 
going to build a better world, that calls for bricklayers, carpenters, farmers, 
mechanics, plumbers, miners — working men. The capitalists and "important** 
people have no power. They make use of the power of the workers. They 
harness labor power to their own purposes. Even military power is labor 
power — the power of labor perverted and used against itself. 

Lenin had studied the works of another genial and good-natured man 
named Karl Marx. A man so simple and friendly that he once delayed his 
work because he didn't want to disturb his pet cat sleeping on his papers. Yet 
those papers contained the theory of scientific socialism which was destined to 
revolutionize the world. 

Lenin knew that the ordinary working men held in their hands all the 
power to create — to build — to change. He taught them to understand the 
power that was theirs. He organized them, led them, and overturned a mighty 
empire. As a result, the first workers and farmers state, embracing one-sixth 
of the earth's surface, was established — the Soviet Union. 

That man had a kind of magic. But his death brought no comfort to the 
capitalists of the world. That same confidence, wisdom and good nature in his 
eyes now looks from the eyes of millions. When Lenin talked to the people, 
they heard a man like themselves speaking. It was almost like they were talking 
to themselves. 

He didn't say "Believe in me." He said, "Believe in yourselves.*' 

His confidence wasn't in what he could do. His confidence was in what 
the people could do if they discovered the power in their own hands, and 
learned confidence in themselves and each other. 



231 



WHAT IS A GOMMUNIST? 

A Communist is a person who believes the woes we are experiencing today 
are not owing to the faults of individuals (much as those faults do exist) but 
to the economic system of capitalism under which we live, which pits man 
against man in a ruthless contest for personal gain. 

A Communist believes that the ultimate solution to the problems of poverty, 
depressions, inflation and war lies in the establishment of a socialist society in 
which the major industries and the natural resources of the earth will be the 
common property of the people* collectively owned and democratically oper- 
ated, and m which men will be rewarded on the basis of true merit* and not on 
the basis of how much money and property they can grab in a ruthless gajme 
of buying and selling. 

A Communist believes it is his duty to convince others of this solution, but 
he does net believe the capitalist system can be changed By words, or that a 
socialist society can be talked into existence. He believes that the only forces 
capable of achieving stock a goal are developed and strengthened by the 
ordinary day-to-day struggles of the common people . for bread and justice 
under capitalism. 

A Communist does not believe that any permanent or substantial solution 
to our problems can be achieved within the workings of the capitalist system, 
but he does know* and does believe that very teal benefits such as the eight 
hour day, unemployment insur ance> improved working conditions and many 
other gains can be won by the people through organised struggle. A Com- 
munist not only supports and participates in those struggles to the utmost* but 
initiates and leads them. 

A Communist knows the capitalist system will never be changed, and 
socialism will never be established* by those who now privately own the 
industries and profit by them, He knows that the only oftes who can or will 
change the system are the ordinary working people to whom capitalism is a 
burden and a source of misery. 

A Communist knows that the private owners who comprise the capitalist 
class will never submit to" socialism* ©r even to the most ordinary demand for 
kfgher wages or social reforms, without & bitter struggle. He knows they will 
oppose change by every means of Suppression and violence they can employ, 
and that, when the organized strength of the common people begins to move 
effectively toward social change, the capitalists will try to impose fascism, 
which is a ruthless dictatorship of the owner class over the population. 

A Communist recognizes this conflict between those who work> and those 
who own, which g^es on every day in the processes of our life, as a class 

232 



struggle between groupings of people with opposite aims and interests which 
can only ultimately be resolved by a triumph of the people. It cannot be 
resolved by a triumph of capitalists because the nearest thing to that would 
be fascism, which solves no social problems, but seeks war as an escape. 

These beliefs of the Communists are not based on abstract theory but 
upon a scientific analysis of the workings of the capitalist system made by 
Karl Marx a hundred years ago, and since supplemented and advanced by 
Lenin and other Marxist thinkers and leaders. It is interesting to note that 
Karl Marx, as long ago as 1848, analyzed and explained the causes of depres- 
sions. Capitalist economists to this day insist that depressions are inexplicable 
phenomena. They refuse to face the facts because the facts reveal the incurable 
faults of the capitalist system itself. 

The Communists believe in absolute equality of rights and opportunities 
for all peoples, regardless of race or nationality. They believe that the people 
of the earth should share this abundant world in cooperation and common 
effort, and should not live by exploiting each other, and preying off each 
other like animals. They believe that men should compete and be rewarded 
on the basis of merit and achievement, and not by the rules of pickpockets 
and wolfish speculators. 

Finally, they believe that such a better world will never come into 
existence through dreaming and talking alone, but must be achieved by 
working and organizing and participating to the full in every immediate 
struggle for the benefit of the common man, be it improved street car service, 
free milk for school children, or a gigantic union struggle for better wages 
or conditions. 



233 



THE RUBAIYAT 
OF FUTURE STRUGGLE 

Awake! for crisis in the marts of trade 
Has loosed war's thundering cavalcade; 
And o'er the paving of the cities march 
New regiments in ominous parade. 

Watching the men in uniform go by, 
I seem to hear the dead of past wars cry: 
"Move over fellows; make a bit more room. 
"Another million men march out to die?* 

A mother, watching, asks: "What is it worth? 
"The love, the pain, anxiety of birth? 
"A little while, then war, and then we lay 
"Their broken bodies in the silent earth." 

Loud drums reviving old barbaric creeds; 
Youth panicked into wild and bloody deeds. 
The cannon cease. The smoke is cleared away. 
The banker profits and the vulture feeds. 

Monarchs are gone. Their tyranny is dead. 
. Financial kings are ruling now instead. 
And still the armies march, the cannons roar, 
And still war's bloody river's flowing red. 

We murdered many million men, but still 
The Lords of Greed are crying: "Kill! Kill! Kill!' 9 
This morning they give uniforms to wear. 
Tomorrow there will be new graves to fill. 

"Come fill the graves while dividends increase! 
"Die bravely. When the noble battles cease, 
"Beneath a torn and devastated world 
"Your bones will rot in glory — and in peace!'* 

And look — a thousand men with legless knees! 
New empty sleeves go flapping in the breeze; 
Blind eyeless sockets; crazed and shell-shocked brains; 
Ten million children blighted with disease. 



234 



rt Hou> sweet is private property!" think some. 
Others: "How blest prosperity to come!" 
Ah, take the facts in hand and waive the rest; 
Poor helpless children roam the city slum. 

Look to the wealth that looms about us. Lo! 
Man sits amidst great plenty mired in wee, 
Cursing his great misfortune and his thirst 
While at his feet abundant waters flow. 

The world of peace men set their hearts upon 
Turns mad for lust of profit; and anon, 
Prosperity, like some strange, hurried guest, 
Stays with us for an hour, and then is gone. 

And those who tilled and harvested the grain, 

And those who fashioned wealth with hand and brain, 

Alike, back into poverty are flung; 

To rise from their own ashes once again. 

Think, in this land where plenty blooms for all, 

How labor creates riches. Then recall 

How crisis after crisis racked the land, 

And all the dreams we cherished came to fall. 

They say the banker and the broker reap 
Good profits when the dead are buried deep. 
No matter which side wins, their gain is great; 
No matter which side loses, widows weep. 

And thus our blood in endless torrent pours 
Down all the futile sewers of their wars; 
And all we builded patiently with toil. 
Goes down when that great bloody torrent roars. 

Lo! Some we loved, the bravest and the best, 
Died valiantly to free the earth's oppressed. 
Until that long sought victory is won, 
No mind will find its peace; no body rest. 

Too many ponder complicated themes, 
And weigh the worth of vast, evasive schemes; 
Lose sight of common sense, elude the facts. 
And veil the strong reality in dreams. 



235 



Alike for those who boldly hall the Red, 
And those who choose the liberal path instead, 
The fascist executioner prepares 
A chopping block to fit each dreamer's head. 

And all your laboring masses who divide 
On minor points of theory or of pride, 
Must reconcile your differences or else 
The bloody fascist hatchet will decide. 

Come, sever threads of doubt and hesitation, 
Break through the fog of abstract conversation, 
And build strong dikes of unity together 
Against the tides of fascist degradation. 

I, too, in search of reason, did frequent 
Those windy spheres of endless argument; 
Bandying words, but evermore the facts 
Remained when all the language had been spent. 

Shunning the truth, our arguments designed 
Garments to fit each special frame of mind, 
Garbing each fact in fashion with our hope, 
Draping the coarsest facts to look refined. 

Lost in a wordy wardrobe — oft mistaking 
Truth to be our own fantastic faking; . 
Failing to recognize one single fact 
Unless it wore a hat of our own making. 

Thus, with our effort, truth in many a gown. 
Romped like a wildly painted circus clown; 
Pinwheeled, taunted, mocked us — 
Stood on its head and faced us upside down. 

Out in the street, beyond this ego-play, 
Reality walked naked as the day; 
The simple truth that no man could escape, 
And no man's wishful thinking brush away. 

Greed filled the mansions; hunger walked the slums; 
Men marched to death while profit beat the drums; 
The hand of labor toiled while rich men held 
The earth beneath their fat, financial thumbs. 



236 



"Where is the fault. Wherein does labor fail? 
"That all we have produced does not avail 
"To feed us, bring us peace, or end the ma%ch 
"Of centuries of hardship and travail?" 

This deep, long, painful cry of labor's soul, 
Into the works of Marx was captured whole, 
And echoed back in clear, decisive words: 
"Take back the world you built and others stole" 

N&thing was ever built but what our hand 
Built it. Our labor cleared and tilled the land; 
And every vessel on the deep blue sea, 
By us was built and bj us only manned. 

With years of toll, for very little pay, 
We rolled a mighty wilderness away; 
Spread farms and raised the cities. Tell me how 
All this becomes their property today? 

Inspired labor, striving to impart 
True feeling, gave the world its finest art. 
The strength of all great music first was sung 
By labor's voice and out of labor's heart. 

Whatever battle raged or war was fought, 
Whatever piece of handiwork was wrought, 
Was fought and wrought by us, and in the end, 
What comfort has our blood and labor bought? 

Bur strength can tear down mountains, rip up trees, 
fight roaring, bloody battles, tame the seas; 
Work, build, create, do anything at all; 
Yet fails to bring security or ease. 

We fought and conquered all the ways of life, 
Built all the cities, battled all the strife; 
This is Our power, yet we find it hard 
To feed our hungry 'children and our wife. 

The millionaire, with careful rule and line, 
Strings endless barbed-wire fences to define 
His property. The best belongs to h'im. 
The middle of the road is yours and mine. 



237 



Observe him as he stands there all agape, 

Enraptured by a piece of ticker tape; 

Buying and selling, reaping all the gain 

From things of which he does not know the shape. 

A parasite — a spoiled and pampered brute, 
Creating nothing, claiming all as loot, 
While round about him eager lackeys vie 
To brush his coat or polish up his boot. 

Behind his desk he swivels, shouts and yells, 
A thousand stooges dancing to his bells, 
As graphs go zooming up and diving down 
To mark what he controls and buys and sells. 

His hired lobbies pace the marble floors 
Of all the governmental corridors, 
To buttonhole, instruct, persuade or bribe 
Ambitious Congressmen or Senators. 

For in and out, above, about, below, 
His golden threads control the puppet show; 
And all the while we watch the bloody play, 
His fingers move the actors to and fro. 

If you who sow the wheat and reap the grain 
Find at the end that only straws remain 
For your poor share of this uneven scheme, 
Think clearly — who is harvesting the gain? 

If you who toil in mine and mill and plant 
Find when the work is done your pay is scant, 
Think — was your labor not done well and true? 
Why, then, must want and hunger rule rampant? 

We labored, yes; built everything quite well, 
Made more, in fact, than industry could sell; 
Created plenty, piled it high, and then 
Sat down amidst it, hungry — sore as hell. 

Ah, there we sat, bewildered, as of yore, 
And heard the sound our fathers heard before; 
Depression climbed our stairs with deadly tread, 
And knocked with bony knuckles on our door. 



238 



Depressions always come, they reassured; 
Just periodic slumps to be endured; 
Inevitable economic ills 
That never can be understood or cured. 

Depressions without rhyme or rule or sense. 
At intervals arriving who knows whence? 
To scourge us like a maniacal plague, 
Then inexplicably departing thence. 

Thus speak the learned experts of the nation; 
Vague mystery, the only explanation. 
Wars, booms and slumps and bank accounts 
All blamed by capital as God's creation. 

How righteously the owner, golden shod, 

Can trample fellow men into the sod, 

Wreck, rob and wreak destruction, then turn round 

And blame the whole mad chaos onto God. 

Whatever God you worship — no God's will 
Decreed that men were put on earth to kill. 
No law of nature, wind or moon or tide 
Is geared up with the toll gate or the till. 

Oh, take the task in hand while yet we may, 
And organize our ranks against the day 
When capital will put aside its mask 
And bare its pointed teeth in sharp array. 

Let all depression's guilt be firmly nailed 
Upon the men whose greedy system failed; 
Who failed, and now raise war's great bloody spike 
On which protesting flesh may be impaled. 

Listen again. Recovery's now their cry. 
What? More of that dark misery gone by? 
Brief peace — another crash — another war, 
Another legion marching off to die? 

Recover what? Recover wasted years? 
Recover ruined lives and long wept tears? 
And all those tragic suicidal dead — 
Will they return to fmish their careers? 



239 



Will human wreckage, tired and broken men, 
Read of the news and rise up whole again? 
And all those girls forced into prostitution — • 
Will they ye gain their virtue— if and when? 

Recovery! Will labor's martyrs rise 
Out of their, graves to greet the promised skies? 
Those farmers driven off then little lands— 
What are you going to do about those guys? 

And while your lying voice in promise cries 
tf Recovery!" the armies mobilize. 
We hear the threatening tread of marching men, 
And bombing planes are darkening the skies. 

Recovery! Another crimson flood- 

Another ship you'd launch upon our blood— 

A toast you'd drink with wine that has been crushed 

From mangled bodies lying in the mud% 

How oft I've heard these men of great affairs 
Feign wonder at the source of human cares, * 

Yet never raise the issue that we might 
Be suffering an excess of millionaires. 

Men never f when confronted with great shame, 
Go looking info mirrors for the blame. 
Small wonder ', then the obvious goes unseen 
By those who hold the golden key to fame. 

Our labor has been patient to the core, 
But labor can't be patient any more. 
And labor's mind is active, as it stands 
Trapped right between depression and a war. 

Men hungered. We provided things to eat. 
Whatever men desired, we gave complete* 
No task too huge, too delicate or hard ' 
But what our boundless energy could meet. 

And having labored well, and having wrought 
Abundance; has our labor gone for naught? . 
Here amidst the wonders of our hand 
Man flounders in mad chaos—sick, distraught. 



240 



Join, neighbor, friend and fellow working man, 
In strong cooperation while we can. 
If still we're forced to take the sword in hand, 
Then let it be to hew a fairer plan. 

Ah, make the most of what we can perform 
Between the warning signal and the storm; 
That crops of hope may not be trampled down 
By lie-confounded mobs in uniform. 

Come, let us face the future una] raid! 
There is one task no worker can evade: 
The final goal of centuries of travail: 
To liberate the world that labor made! 



THE GENIE OF DOOZENPFEFFER 



Once upon a time, many millions of years ago, there was a professor with 
a long white beard who was named Doozenpfefrer. He lived in a big stone 
tower filled with all kinds of bottles of different shapes, and electrical instru- 
ments, and strange tools that looked like a dentist's equipment, but had secret 
purposes which only he knew, and he wouldn't tell anybody. He was looking 
for the secret to human happiness. 

He had been in the tower for so many years, and his beard was so long 
that it grew out the window and extended along the countryside. One day a 
practical-minded peasant braided the hairs into a skipping rope for the children, 
and almost any day you could see them singing and laughing as they skipped 
to the swinging of the philosopher's great beard. 

Doozenpfeffer was all unaware of this because he never looked out the 
window. He was too busy pouring strange fluids together and pinching various 
rocks, with his secret tools, searching for the secret to human happiness. 

He had inherited an ancient manuscript from his father, who, in turn, had 
inherited it from his father, which told that if you would split a rock, then 
take one-half of it and split it again, then split one half of that, and keep on 
splitting, you would finally release a great genie who would be able to tell 
you the secret of happiness, provided you could understand his language. 

But you must be careful first to master his language because he spoke with 
the voice of a volcano in gigantic explosions. 

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242 



Prof. Doozenpfeffer also had in the tower hundreds and hundreds of old 
and dirty books written by men who had long since gone mad or died trying 
to decipher the secret to happiness. 

They were written in languages so old that no one talked them anymore, 
and had been thumbed through by countless generations of near-sighted 
scholars, until most of them looked like the ragged telephone books you see 
hanging in cheap barrooms where men seldom wash their hands, and lazily 
tear out pieces of the pages instead of writing down the numbers they want to 
remember. 

Prof. Doozenpfeffer had read all these books many times, and some of 
them he could almost recite from beginning to end (except where there were 
pages torn out) and he felt sure that he could understand the language of 
volcanoes. Because, although no one of the books made much more noise in 
itself, when you added up all in the tiny squeaks of knowledge each one repre- 
sented, it amounted in the end to a terrific noise, almost equivalent to an 
explosion. 

Many years ago, Doozenpfeffer had begun with a medium size rock, 
splitting it in half, then splitting half of it in half, and so on until now he 
was down to pieces smaller than flyspecks, and he had to use a magnifying 
glass thicker than a stove lid in order to see what he was doing. 

On this particular afternoon, he had arrived at a speck of matter so tiny 
that he could scarcely tell if it were there at all, or if he were only dreaming. 
He would see it, then he would not see it. Then he'd blink his eyes and it would 
appear again. 

Moving carefully, and blinking his eyes to keep the infinitesimal speck in 
view, Doozenpfeffer gripped it with one of his delicate tools and squeezed 
much as you would with a nutcracker. The speck refused to split. 

Now, Doozenpfeffer had read in one of his learned books that if you try 
to crack a nut with a nutcracker, and it won't crack, then the only thing to do 
is put it on the floor and hit it with a hammer. 

This he did, and his eyes were blinded by a light so dazzling that it 
illuminated the very marrow of his bones. Simultaneously, there was an 
explosion so loud that, entering both of his ears at once, it collided in his 
brain, causing his eyes to bulge like inflated toy balloons. 

From all the surrounding countryside, people ran out of their homes and 
saw a huge, mushroom-like white cloud of smoke rising over the professor's 
tower, in which all the windows had been shattered and the roof blown off. 

When the cloud thinned away, there stood a tremendous giant with eyes 
of fire and muscles like an acrobat, and live electric wires growing in his 
chest instead of hairs. The giant beat his chest like a drum and roared: 

243 



"Work or kill? Work or kill? 
What is your will? 
I can build you a heaven. 
I can tear you to hell. 
I'll do all your bidding, 
But ponder it well." 

The children ran quickly and hid under bridges, while their parents 
trembled and cried to the professor, "Put him back in the rock. Put him back 
in the rock. We don't want him." 

Prof. DoozenpfefTer, who had been blown out through one of the win- 
dows, sat feeling his chin where his beard had been burned off to the roots. 
"There is no putting him back," he said sadly. "It is written in the book that 
once freed from the rock, the giant can never be put back thei'e again. We 
must live with him forever." 

Meanwhile, the giant kept beating his chest and growling: "Work or 
kill? Work or kill? What is your will?" 

A young farmer present considered the situation and said: "This is not 
so bad. If he will really do our will, this giant can help us tear granite from 
the mountainside to build new houses. He can pull up stumps and clear the 
land for crops." 

But there was a great general who happened to be staying in the village 
inn, and he said: "This is a military matter. He belongs to the army. With his 
help we can conquer all other peoples and rule the earth." 

And there was a landlord who said: "He belongs to me. After all, I own 
the tower in which he was created. The professor is behind in his rent. There- 
fore, the giant is mine. He shall make me great profits." 

"Caution, caution," warned the professor. "Now that the power is known, 
other countries will split rocks and produce their own giants. He must not be 
used for war." 

"Nonsense," cried the general. "We will strike first." 

"Profits," screamed the landlord. "He can make me profits." 

"Work," shouted the farmer. "He can work and produce." 

"He will create unemployment," yelled another. 

"He can build a better world," said still another. 

Meanwhile the giant paced up and down, shaking the earth with every 
step: "Work or kill?" he thundered. "Make up your minds. Work or kill?" 

And the little children huddled under the bridges and trembled, for they 
did not yet understand the language of volcanoes. 



244 



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